This is one of those family recipes that does not truly have a proper name. I just had to make up a recipe title that somewhat accurately describes what this dish is. My grandmother simply called it Beans and Rice, which does not quite convey what this dish is for anyone outside of my family.
This dish satisfies my craving for warm comfort food, which is precisely what I wanted this past Sunday.
I don’t know if it’s the change in weather or simply stress and lack of adequate rest, but I’ve felt a cold coming on for the past few days. My sinuses have been unpleasant and I’ve been extra tired lately. I was craving a warm bowl of stew or soup. I was also craving red meat, which is unusual for me because I don’t eat a large amount of red meat (my husband is a slightly different story). I think that is a sign of some sort of vitamin/mineral deficiency? Anyway, I went with it.
This recipe is so simple and easy. The longest amount of time is waiting for all of the ingredients to stew together until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are soft. It’s amusing to think that when my grandma would make her delicious home-cooked meals, it always seemed more complicated, and duplicating them seemed so difficult. I am by no means claiming to have perfectly duplicated anything that she makes-but the scent of the allspice stewing together after the beef was sautéed with onions and olive oil reminded me exactly of the smell of my grandmother’s kitchen when we would go to visit. At least I got that part right. Smell is such a powerful form of nostalgia.
I also made her rice recipe, one of my husband’s favorites, which is nothing more than basically rice and orzo cooked in a stick of butter, slightly browned. Obviously my grandmother knew what she was doing. And the scent of the butter cooking on the stove while browning the orzo is heavenly.
This is a perfect meal for a cold Fall or Winter night. It is hearty and filling, yet the tomato based broth is light enough to help avoid the feeling of being over-stuffed (depending on how many bowls you have!). You can substitute peas for the green beans if you prefer, or if that is what you have on hand; otherwise, this recipe is simple, using minimal ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen. Unlike many other dishes I make, I didn’t modify this by adding in a plethora of additional vegetables, spices, or ingredients. Like most of grandmother’s dishes that come from a similar base of ingredients, this dish is perfect as it is. Enjoy.
Beef + Green Bean Stew
- 1.5 lbs stew meat, cut into small squares
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (you may need to add more)
- 1-2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 12 oz can tomato paste
- 4 carrots, chopped into 2 inch pieces
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 4-5 cups water
- 2 tablespoons allspice (add more to taste)
- Salt + pepper to taste
- 1 14.5 oz can green beans, drained (defrost if using frozen)
- 1 cup orzo
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 2 cups rice
- 4 cups water
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
For stew: Heat large stockpot to medium heat. Add olive oil, onions, garlic, and meat. Stir constantly until meat is browned. Add tomato paste, water, carrots, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 hours. Add green beans and serve.
For rice: Heat large sauté pan (or medium sauce pan) to medium heat. Add orzo and butter, stirring constantly until orzo is browned. Once orzo is browned, add rice, water, and salt. Bring to a boil then simmer until water is fully absorbed (as always, cooking times will vary based on type of rice used).
I highly recommend serving this with some crusty bread.