• 1 kg fresh green beans
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh parsley

Zelen fasul is the Bulgarian name of green beans, also known as string beans. Most people cultivate green beans in their gardens and harvest them in the summer, to make some preserves for the winter months. However, Bulgarian green beans being flatter and thicker than the thin round ones we know, they are also sweeter in taste and are harvested younger, so to prevent the appearance of strings in the flesh.

Therefore Bulgarians use these green beans, fresh-picked from the plant in the summer or from winter preserves, to prepare a sweet and creamy stew. It is quite easy to make and smells delicious while it cooks slowly over very low heat, due to the usual essentials: sweet paprika powder, garlic, aromatic cubanelle pepper and fresh parsley.

Directions

  1. Wash the green beans and cut off the stems at the ends of each bean. Cut the green beans in bite-size pieces, more or less 1 inch long.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Then you will make layers with the ingredients in the pan.
  3. Place the green beans as the first layer evenly on the bottom of the saucepan.
  4. Over the green beans sprinkle the finely chopped onion and then the finely chopped garlic.
  5. Then make a layer of the finely chopped cubanelle pepper and a layer of the finely chopped carrot.
  6. On top of the layered vegetables sprinkle evenly the spices in the following order: paprika, black pepper, and salt. Top it off with a tablespoon of all-purpose flour, that would serve to thicken the stew.
  7. Over the flour place the finely diced tomato, that you can peel or not beforehand to your preference, and on top of it the chopped fresh parsley.
  8. After placing the ingredients one on top of the other in this order, cover the pan. Without stirring, simmer over very low heat, perhaps on the lowest level, for about 3 hours.
  9. When the green beans are cooked, stir carefully to not mash up the pods. Remove from the heat and serve.

Serve this green beans stew warm as a main dish, sprinkled with some extra chopped fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper. With a piece of warm crusty bread it could be enough to enjoy this vegetarian stew.

Alternatively, you can try serving it cold as a salad or a side dish.