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Grandma Menna’s Kitchen: stewed French beans

If you’d see me now, you could think I’ve always loved eating, everything and in large quantity. Actually, I was a bit of a picky child, especially for vegetables. I used to eat green salad, seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil and salt, nothing more nothing less, and potatoes, boiled, fried, baked, mashed… but just potatoes. Besides salad and potatoes, there were Grandma’s French Beans: they were tasteful, delicious and far away from the usual vegetables!

Grandma has told me this was the same method that was used by my grand grandma. When I was young, such as with guinea – fowl, I thought it was really hard to make this recipe. Maybe because the only time I tried to make stewed French beans I forgot olive oil and bacon…Very light indeed, but not so tasteful!

Stewed French beans

Since I’m a very good child, here you have the recipe, handed on from mother to daughter for three generations.

Stewed French beans

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Tuscan
Servings 4


  • 500 g of fresh French beans
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 100 g pancetta or ham in a thick slice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
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  • Clean the French beans, break off the tips and draw the broken tips down along the seam to remove the tough fibre that may be present.
  • Chop the onion, celery, and carrot finely. Pour a small quantity of olive oil into a large pan. French beans thens to be voluminous at the beginning. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery, then the diced pancetta, the French beans, the diced tomatoes and a glass of water. Season with only a few pinches of salt, since the pancetta or the ham are already very tasty. Put the pan over a flame, cover with a lid, and cook for 40 minutes. Remember to stir frequently as French beans do love to burn and stick to the bottom of your pan. Add warm water if needed to finish the cooking.
  • French beans are ready when they are soft, dark green, and coated with a crumbly sauce made by the chopped vegetables and pancetta. Season with salt if necessary. It is a joyful and tasteful side dish, but it can also be served as a main dish, along with a large piece of bread to clean the plate clean.
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