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Fagiolini alla Fiorentina - Green Beans in Tomato and Fennel Seeds

This recipe comes from Carmelita Caruana. Carmelita is just passionate about food, about the scents and flavours of food, about the pleasures of cooking and of eating in convivial company, about the use of the best possible ingredients in order to maximise those pleasures.

She believes everyone can learn to cook. She also believes that to cook well you need first to be greedy, and then you need a little patience and a lot of passion!

She started Cook Italy which organises cooking holidays in Italy in 1999 and though relatively new to the field, she is already having great success, travelling internationally to give talks and to run cooking classes. She appeared as guest chef on BBC 2 's Saturday Kitchen last year, cooking a Sicilian menu, and plans to be running occasional evening cookery classes in London. Her cook book is on the way!


600 g Green beans
Half a glass of good Olive Oil
1 medium onion
2/3 tbsp tomato passata (thick seedless tomato pulp ) or 1 of tomato concentrate
1 tsp of fennel seeds
Salt and pepper


  • Top and tail the beans then rinse in hot water just before throwing them into a pot of well salted boiling water.
  • Cook uncovered until almost tender but still with a little bite, then drain.
  • Grind the fennel seeds to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle.
  • Slice the onion into slim half moons and soften in the olive oil with 1 tbsp. of water, using the pan in which you will eventually cook the dish
  • Add the drained beans, the fennel seed powder and salt and pepper to taste
  • Next add the tomato sauce, dissolved in a little water if it is thick or if you are using concentrated tomato paste, and stir through gently to coat the beans.
  • Cover and cook in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes. Serve quite hot.


  • Italians have no time for crunchy "al dente" vegetables, they like their cooked vegetables well softened though not overcooked.
  • Another Tuscan way with green beans is to stew them in a garlic flavoured tomato and olive oil sauce - this comes from Pescia, in Northern Tuscany

Serves 6

Carmelita Caruana