Green beans stew (Zöldbabfőzelék)

Green and yellow wax beans stew have been popular for a long time in Hungary. A generous amount of sour cream and a bit of lemon juice (or vinegar) impart the signature bright flavor to this summer dish, which is often served cold during the warmest months.

Ingredients

Yield: 4 servings; Total time: 30 minutes

  • 1 kilo (2 ¼ pounds) green or yellow wax beans, ends trimmed, cut diagonally into 2 ½ cm (1-inch) pieces; you can also use frozen beans

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, minced

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 pinches ground pepper

  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika

  • 2 ½ cups water

  • ¾ cup sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick or ¼ cup) butter

  • Slices of crusty bread

Directions

  • Step 1: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high, then add minced onion and sauté until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Then add minced garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Then stir in paprika, salt, pepper, and bay leaves and immediately add the beans and 2 ½ cups of water. Let the mixture steam-cook with the lid on until beans are soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

  • Step 2: In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream and flour. Add sour cream mixture to the pot and stir well at a low simmer for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat, then add butter, lemon juice, and chopped parsley and mix thoroughly.

  • Step 3: Taste for salt and add more if needed. Remove bay leaves. Serve the green beans in shallow bowls topped with a choice of (pork) goulash, meatballs (fasírt), crisped-up sausages, or fried eggs and crusty bread on the side.

Words of advice

The amount of water used here may seem insufficient, but rather than fully cooking the beans, this steam-cooking action preserves more of their native flavor.

I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day. Do you have any feedback? Please let me know!