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