Make a (not so lean) green bean

Actually, I take that back. This fast and easy green bean recipe strikes a happy medium between those who love their veggies straight up, and those who need them disguised as chocolate cake to get it down.

Today's dish -- and its notes -- come courtesy of Mama Rocchi, via Lidia Bastianich's television show. Please buy one of Lidia's cookbooks if you like this recipe to atone for my mother's ongoing sin of writing down the recipe herself as she watches.

Green Bean Gratinata*

* NOTE: Gratinata is Italian for "Look Ma, I disguised my veggies with CHEESE!"

From Mom: "I just eyeball all my ingredients based on the amount of green beans I’m going to cook." (Are you sensing a trend in our family's cooking style?)

For your reference, five pounds of fresh green beans "easily served" 50 Italians at our holiday party. And it conveniently fills two half-size catering pans for easy storage and prep.


* Fresh green beans, cooked tender crisp (I break them in half before cooking because they don’t spoon well if they are left whole)
* Cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half, or you can use canned, large-dice tomatoes, liquid drained. Of course fresh Jerseys in season would be optimal!
* Fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
* Fresh or dry basil (use less if dry)
* Salt
* Olive oil
* Locatelli or parmesan (or your favorite hard cheese)[Ed. note: Because of course we ALL have a favorite hard cheese.]
* Bread crumbs, fine or coarse as preferred (I like a little coarse)

After cooking the green beans, drain well and stop the cooking process with a cold rinse or dip. Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.

Place everything in a buttered baking pan. Sprinkle top with more crumbs and hard cheese, and dot with butter. Bake at 375° for at least 25 minutes or until crumb topping is golden and cheese is gooey.