Green beans with tomato sauce is a simple, budget-friendly dish that is bursting with summer flavors. Garlic, onions, plum tomatoes, and green beans are gently stewed together in this tasty Italian side dish that is perfect to serve with almost any meal. If you're looking for a creative way to jazz up your green beans, this is your recipe!
Green beans are one of my favorite veggies, and they are certainly a staple in an Italian-American household.
Growing up, green beans with tomato sauce regularly appeared on our dinner table. My grandmother would make this dish weekly, and eventually, when my mom took over, she too would make it.
You could say that this dish has withstood the test of time since I now make it for my family, and am happy to share our recipe with you.
Stewed green beans in tomato sauce will also make an appearance as a side dish on our Sunday dinner table when it is in need of a bit of green.
Tomato and Green Bean variations
The tomato and green bean combination isn't just confined to Italian or Italian-American cuisine.
Other cultures also have their version of the dish, such as loobyeh, a Lebanese dish that combines tomato and green beans and other spices, such as paprika.
Or the Greek version, known as Fasolakia which may include oregano.
The Italian version, also known as fagiolini in umido, typically includes basil.
As you can see the tomato and green bean combo remains the constant across these cultures, with only the herbs or spices variating.
Green beans: fresh, frozen, or canned?
When early Italian-Americans began making this dish in their newfound home, they likely relied upon canned green beans out of necessity. Fresh vegetables were not as plentiful, or affordable as they are today.
Now that fresh green beans can be found at most grocery stores, I recommend using them for most green bean recipes.
That being said, if you cannot find fresh green beans, frozen would be an acceptable option.
In a dish like sauteed green beans with garlic and oil, fresh beans are more critical to maintain the crispness and texture.
But, in this recipe, since the green beans are stewed in tomato sauce, frozen beans are a great option.
Note: Fresh green beans that come in a bag are usually already trimmed. If you are able to buy loose fresh green beans, you will need to trim the stems off yourself.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Dice one medium onion and slice four cloves of garlic. Chop the basil and parsley and set aside. Trim the small ends from the green beans, if needed. Blender pulse (just 1-2 seconds to maintain texture) or hand crush the plum tomatoes and set aside.
- In a large pan over medium-low heat, saute the onion in a ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic slices and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden. Add the hot red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Note: you can omit the red pepper flakes if you prefer no heat.
- Add the crushed plum tomatoes and bring to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil with two teaspoons of kosher salt. Once boiling, add the green beans and cook for 3 minutes.
- Strain the green beans and add them to the sauce. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes longer to allow the sauce to reduce and stick to the green beans.
- Taste test and add salt, if required. Once you are satisfied with the taste and texture of the green beans, remove from heat and add the fresh basil and parsley.
- Mix the herbs and sauce with the string beans. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan on the side. Enjoy!
Note: Some people prefer their green beans to be firm, while others like them quite soft. Cook them to the texture that works best for you. This really comes down to personal preference.
Other great side dishes
As I mentioned above, I love green beans, especially in the summer when they are everywhere!
If you're looking for more green veggie side dishes, a few of my favorites include:
- Broccoli rabe, aka rapini, sauteed with garlic and oil
- Roasted baby broccoli with seasoned breadcrumbs
- Garlicky escarole with cannellini beans
- Italian-style broccoli with garlic and oil
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe for green beans in tomato sauce, or any recipe on this site, we want to know so tell us in the comments below. We would love to hear how you did and it’s nice to show others as well. Thanks!
- 1 ½ pounds green beans stems removed
- 1 28 ounce can of plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- ⅜ cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- ¼ cup basil chopped
- ¼ cup parsley minced
- In a large pan over medium-low heat saute the onion in a ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil until translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Add in the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more until golden.
- Add the hot red pepper flakes (optional) and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the plum tomatoes and bring to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Once boiling, add the green beans in and cook for 3 minutes.
- Strain the green beans and add them to the sauce. Continue to cook for 5-10 minutes longer letting the sauce further reduce and stick to the green beans.
- Taste test and adjust salt to desired taste. Once satisfied with the taste and the texture of the beans, turn off the heat and finish with the fresh basil and parsley along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan on the side. Enjoy!
- Recipe is for 4 large or 6 moderate servings.
- If you like the beans on the very soft side, just continue to cook over a gentle simmer. If the sauce drys out just add a bit of water to prevent the beans from burning.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.