I know, I know, you are probably thinking, “Here we go again – she disappeared for a long time and is back with another excuse.” But please forgive me. We are getting ready for our big trip to Turkiye and Azerbaijan, so lately I have been obsessed with packing suitcases and making sure nothing is forgotten before we leave. So, I am officially self-diagnosed with suitcase syndrome caused by an extreme and rare case of over-excitement about packing things.
But I’ve been cooking, though rarely, and my cooking these days involves mostly vegetables and less so meats. Speaking of vegetables, the vegetable season is officially open in Azerbaijan too. This means that the consumption of meats is gradually decreasing giving way to vegetables of all sorts, plentiful throughout the summer. Green beans are some of the most frequently used and Azerbaijanis cook them in a variety of ways. Here’s one way to cook them – with eggs.
Traditionally, this dish, called lobya chighirtmasi, is prepared with Romano green beans or dragon-tongue beans that turn green when cooked. Both of these bean varieties are sweeter and more flavorful than French beans more widely available in the US. I highly recommend that you use these varieties for this dish. Look for them in Middle Eastern/Persian/Turkish stores. If not available, substitute with regular green beans. Green beans and eggs work great together in this dish. You will be pleasantly surprised by the varied taste their combination offers. Nush Olsun!
Green Beans with Eggs (Lobya Chighirtmasi)
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped at a slight angle into 2 –inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped (2 cups)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (2 cups)
1 cup chopped fresh basil (preferably purple basil)
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Fill a medium saucepan with about 10 cups of water. Add the beans and bring to a boil. Cook for about 25 minutes (may take shorter or longer depending on the bean variety), or until they are almost tender but not completely cooked. Drain on a colander. At this point, you can leave the beans as is, or press them in the colander with the bottom of a mug or a glass, until the beans are somewhat smashed and softened (this method is indigenous to the northwest where it is believed that slightly smashing the beans ensures the release of maximum flavor from them). Set the beans aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan, heat the butter or oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook for another 5 minutes. Toss in the drained beans. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to mix. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender and there is little liquid left.
Break the eggs in a small bowl and stir to mix. Pour the eggs evenly over the green beans. Cover and cook until the eggs are set, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with bread.