Mediterranean Braised Green Beans with Mint and Feta Cheese

Recipe Photo
You can also use frozen green beans for this recipe, but adjust the cooking times. Still use the bi carb of soda because it softens the beans. 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon bi carb soda
750g green beans, cut into 2 to 3-inch lengths
1 tablespoon tomato paste
450g can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Red wine vinegar
100g feta, crumbled (1/2 cup)

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275°F. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, allspice, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water, baking soda, and green beans and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes and their juice, salt, and pepper.
2. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until sauce is slightly thickened and green beans can be easily cut with side of fork, 40 to 50 minutes. Stir in mint and season with vinegar to taste. Sprinkle with feta and serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

A dollop of yogurt spooned over the beans adds nice tang.

Why this recipe works:
In order to quickly create braised green beans that are ultra-tender but not mushy or blown out, we first cook them in baking soda and water, to partially dissolve the pectin in their cell walls and let water enter to soften their fibrous skins. We then add tomatoes to neutralize the soda and let them simmer gently in a low oven.

From Cook's Illustrated

Lemon Cream Chicken with Oven Baked Rice

Serves 4-6
This dish is easy to serve to a crowd. The recipe doubles or triples easily, but the time in the oven may need to be longer for both dishes.

Lemon Chicken

1kg chicken thighs or breasts
2-3 lemons
350 mls cream
Salt and pepper
Place chicken in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to slow simmer, and cook 5 mins. It needs to be slightly underdone. Remove chicken cool and dice into 1cm pieces.
Grate zest from lemons, then juice.
Combine diced chicken, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper in an ovenproof dish. Add cream. Stir to combine. Cover and reheat in oven at 150 for 15 mins, or until hot.
Serve over rice.

Oven baked rice

2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
2 tbs butter
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 150.
Boil water.
Add butter, salt and rice. Reboil and stir. Place in a covered dish in oven.
Cook 25-30 mins. Fluff up before serving.