One of my earliest memories is sitting on the kitchen bench at my grandparents' place in Summer Hill, in Sydney's inner west, cutting the tops and tails off a big bowl of beans we had just harvested from the veggie patch in the backyard. My yiayia (grandma) would always try get us involved in the kitchen...which I'm sure was her way of trying to minimise the mischief my brother, two cousins and I always seemed to get ourselves into!
Yiayia Eleni (who I was named after) was simply a beautiful soul. She was kind, patient and infinitely loved her children and grandchildren. When I had my eldest in August 2002, she fulfilled her dream of seeing a great grandchild. She loved holding him and simply looking at him, almost as if she couldn't believe he was in her arms. Then as he started toddling around, her beautiful face would light up with joy when he would go to her and play - priceless memories.
She passed in January 2004 in a car accident of all things. She must have had a feeling something was going to happen as she had given mum a teddy in mid-November to give to my boy for Christmas, just in case she didn't make it. She was 89 years old at the time, still feeding and showering herself, completely aware of everything around her, making jokes and belly laughing so that her whole little body shook...but nothing gave her joy more than being with all of us.
Every time I cook this dish I'm reminded of yiayia. I don't know if it's the memory of a little me, dishevelled hair and all (no doubt from wrestling with the others) sitting on the bench or simply the fact that even as a grown woman, I still always sat with her to top and tail those beans at every opportunity. I just know that it's a super simple dish that brings me so much joy every time I cook it.
A super popular dish in the Greek world, I hope you give it a go. It's great on its own with some crusty bread, wonderful as a side to grilled or bbq'd protein and simply wowsers to have any leftovers with ham in a sandwich the next day!
As always, I'd love to see your version of this dish, so please tag me @mummascountrykitchen on your socials if you make it.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes