Green Beans with Tomatoes, Bacon, and Goat Cheese

14 Aug

In Minnesota, there’s a slim space in time when fresh tomatoes are available.  After making it through a long winter filled with mealy, flavorless tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes taste gloriously wonderful.  If you are like me and your green thumb is actually plant poison, what you hope for is that someone in your family or one of your neighbors have a bumper crop of tomatoes and want to share their bounty.  For the past few years, this has been the case, and almost nothing makes me happier.

For a few awesome weeks, I will have a tomato at every meal.  And I will be so happy.

Last week, my mom loaded me up with treasures from her garden including cucumbers, green beans, and a bag full of tomatoes.  Earlier in the day, I had also purchased a few yellow and pink tomatoes from the farmers market.  And as they lined up like a tomato beauty pageant waiting to see who would be crowned, I pulled a few winners out of the queue and whipped up some dinner.

This is a very simple and fast dish to prepare.  Wonderful as a side dish, or in my case the main course, the combination of tomatoes, green beans, and bacon is divine.  Throw a little goat cheese on there and you can practically hear the archangels sing.  For real.  You can use any variety of tomato, but know that they cook down so the colors that show up when using non-red varieties are fleeting.  But for those few moments, your pan will look really, really pretty.  For my own dinner, I used pink and yellow tomatoes from the Tomato King (location: Albany, MN).  If you’re lucky enough to spot his tomatoes at your local Farmer’s Market or co-op, grab a few.  They are mighty fine.

To start, I cooked up a little bacon until it was crisp, then removed it and set it aside until it was cool enough to crumble.  In the meantime, I added the veggies and a little garlic wine to help sauce it up and add some flavor.  This was my first time using a garlic wine and it might be one of my new favorite things.  Made at the Crow River Winery (location: Hutchinson, MN), the wine is light in color and packed with roasted garlic flavor.  Added to this dish, it gave a nice, mild, and slightly smoky garlic flavor.  If you don’t have any garlic wine on hand (which is a very likely scenario), feel free to use another wine or water in its place (see notes below).

For those of you who love making foods ahead (hey mom!), this dish is excellent reheated.  For best results, add the bacon and goat cheese after reheating.    As a side, I’d definitely recommend this with pork, BBQ, or any grilled or smoked meats.  As a main dish, I’d recommend grabbing a big bowl.

Green Beans with Tomatoes, Bacon, and Goat Cheese
Serving size: 1 to 1-1/2 c.
Serves: 2

2 strips pepper bacon
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and snapped into bite sized pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. garlic wine
Dash crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. goat cheese, crumbled

In a skillet over medium to medium-high heat, cook bacon until crispy.  Remove from pan and set aside to cool.  Reduce the heat to medium low, add green beans and garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add wine, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.

Divide mixture between plates or bowls.  Top with goat cheese and crumbled bacon.  Serve.

Estimated calories:  247 cal/serving

Print it: Green Beans with Tomatoes, Bacon and Goat Cheese

Notes:
- Although this was a really great way to use fresh produce, this is the kind of dish that would also be pretty good in the winter, using frozen green beans and canned, diced tomatoes.  It would not be as fresh tasting, but the flavors would hold up really well as a tasty winter side.
- Don’t have any garlic wine?  You could substitute any wine.  Red will give it a full flavor, white will be a bit crisper.  I’d stay away from any sweet wines for this one.
- If you’re a vegetarian, substitute the bacon for some olive oil.  The flavor will be different, but it will still be quite tasty.
- Need to make it non-dairy?  Simply omit the goat cheese or top it with a dollop of non-dairy sour cream.

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