green beans

four vegies for christmas

Hooray, my Christmas responsibilities are over for another year. And Christmas isn’t even really here yet. From now on I’m just a guest … But for my extended family Christmas this year (our party was yesterday) I was in charge of … ‘vegetables’.  Elise did meat.  Merryn did pudding.

I made four dishes.  A bit of a middle eastern/italian fusion.  My old favourite Abla’s green beans, and then roast pumpkin (for my Dad) and baked tomatoes (for me). Oh, and smashed potatoes with rosemary and olive oil (for everyone).


The roast pumpkin (officially roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar*) and baked tomatoes (officially baked tomatoes with baguette) were my first attempts at Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes.

I made them because I went to Wendy’s the other week and she made a delicious pumpkin thing by him that had pomegranate molasses and was impressive. I was looking for THAT recipe and couldn’t find it in my last minute cooking rush, but I came across these.  They sounded manageable, and I had the ingredients, and so … ta da.


And they were delicious. And ideal if you have to take vegie dishes to someone else’s house for Christmas. Because they are perfect to eat at room temperature.

I’m a convert. What I liked was that although the recipes sounded a bit complicated, the dishes really looked pretty speccy, and the basics were very straight forward. I found it was very quick and easy to get the vegies in the oven.  It was just that you then had to make an interesting dressing that required a few ingredients.  But really, pumpkin takes a hour to bake right, and you just had to mix some stuff together …

I really think Yotam might become a new good friend of mine …


*I substituted pistachios for the recommended pine nuts on the top of the pumpkin.

green beans – abla’s great recipe

Julius is a Dad from school who owns Elgin Printing and he kindly donates printing to Art4All each year.  Elgin Printing is, obviously, in Elgin Street, Carlton.

And every time I think of printing, and Julius, (which I do more than you’d imagine lately – only because I am in the depths of organising Art4All again) I think of my most favourite restaurant on Elgin Street, Ablas, and then I think about these green beans.

Or, perhaps I could start this story from the other end …

Here is one of my most favourite recipes that I make all the time.  I love it because it is simple, delicious and you can eat it hot, cold, or at room temperature which is so super handy for visitors.

It comes from Abla Amad’s cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen. Ablas is a super lebanese restaurant on Elgin Street, Carlton, named after the owner.

I haven’t been there for a couple of years, but I often think about it when talking to Julius from school who owns Elgin Printing which is just down the road.  And I wonder if he just pops in there sometimes … I would if I worked nearby.

So … to the recipe. I cooked this last night (notice the pot??!). This recipe is from memory, so I hope I get it right. 20140715-201641-73001170.jpg

Green beans with Olive Oil

500 g green beans, topped and tailed if necessary

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

1 onion finely chopped or sliced

1-2 fresh skinned tomatoes (I just peel them with the peeler or even keep the skin on) chopped or tinned diced tomato is good too

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

In a pot put the olive oil and onions and cook for 10 minutes (put on your timer so you cook them long enough because it tastes better in the end). Note, the onions will be swimming in olive oil! Add the beans and allspice and cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes and salt and pepper. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

DONE!  Soooo good.