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One Pot Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

Finished Italian green beans in tomato sauce styled on plate with fresh basil garnish.
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Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce is a delicious and easy, budget-friendly side dish that is perfect year-round and looks as at home on a weeknight menu as it does on a Sunday or holiday dinner table. And the best part is–it’s all made in one pot for seamless prep and clean-up!

Finished Italian green beans in tomato sauce styled on plate with fresh basil garnish.

This humble dish is classic Italian-American, but you see it in Italy as well, where it is known as fagiolini in umido. It’s a simple way to dress up green beans in no time at all. Crisp, fresh green beans are slowly simmered in a savory tomato sauce with onions, garlic and herbs until tender. It’s a family-friendly veggie dish that is sure to please even the picky eaters around your table. In fact, this recipe just happens to be vegetarian, vegan, dairy- and gluten-free, so it appeals to everyone!

This recipe is essentially the Italian version of southern stewed green beans. Full of flavor, comforting and hearty, it’s one of those simple side dishes that can never go wrong.

Many versions of this dish include potatoes, which I love to include as well from time-to-time. This recipe is such a perfect accompaniment to so many different types of entrees, like pesto turkey meatballs, roast chicken and grilled salmon, and I also recently discovered that it is great as a bruschetta topping on rustic bread!

Finished Italian green beans in tomato sauce on fork.

What Inspired This Recipe

I grew up eating this dish and still love making it regularly! In fact, this recipe transports me right back to my childhood, growing up in southern New Jersey with loads of delicious summer veggies shared with my family by our relatives living further south in major farmland. Hearty and simple with few ingredients, its roots scream cucina povera, the “peasant cooking” of Italy’s southern regions and my ancestors.

We always made this dish with what we called “Italian green beans” when we could. Technically called romano or pole beans, think of them as a longer and wider cousin to our everyday green beans. You can check them out in my Italian Green Beans and Potatoes recipe. These days, I generally make this recipe with regular string beans since those are what I have the most access to.

I streamlined my mom’s version of this recipe by making it all in one pot–much simpler and less to clean! Essentially, the green beans are added to canned tomatoes with some water and the beans and tomatoes cook together and are ready at the same time. No separate bean blanching is necessary! In fact, on that note, I actually prefer the beans in this recipe to be what many would consider slightly overcooked. (It’s an Italian-American thing.) But, the beauty of this dish is that you can cook them to whatever texture that you desire.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the bread! This delicious rich tomato sauce is perfect to dunk some crusty bread into to scrape up every last bit off the plate! (fare la scarpetta, anyone?) Enjoy!

Ingredients for green beans in tomato sauce.

Ingredients for Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

To make Italian Style Green Beans in Tomato Sauce, we will be using the following:

  • Green Beans: Look for fresh, firm green beans with a smooth pod that are crisp and snap easily when bent. If you are able to find romano or pole beans, a.k.a., “Italian green beans”, by all means–use them! Be sure to trim off the tough end before using. While I prefer using fresh green beans in this dish, frozen beans are a great option since the beans are basically stewed in the tomato sauce (as opposed to lightly sautéed or grilled where a crisper texture is desirable).
  • Tomatoes: I prefer to use canned, whole tomatoes that I then hand-crush in most of my recipes requiring canned tomatoes. I just love the chunky texture that I get from them. However, crushed, pureed or diced tomatoes will all work perfectly in this recipe. You can also use a prepared tomato sauce in this recipe, such as Sugo di Pomodoro or a purchased brand.
  • Olive Oil: No explanation necessary, except to say that a little high quality extra-virgin olive oil would be a great idea to drizzle over the finished dish for extra richness.
  • Onions, Garlic and Fresh Basil: These are all key aromatics in the recipe. Fresh basil is perfect in the dish, but a little dried basil can easily replace it.

A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.⁠

Prepped ingredients for green beans in tomato suace.

Green Beans in Tomato Sauce Step-by-Step!

Here are the very few steps for how to make this easy Italian veggie:

  • Prep and measure all ingredients. Trim green beans.
Prepping green beans on cutting board.
Whole tomatoes in glass bowl being hand-crushed with other ingredients in background.
  • Then, combine the olive oil and onions in a large skillet and cook until the onion starts to soften. Add the garlic, basil and crushed red pepper flakes and continue to cook until the garlic has softened.
    • PRO-TIP: Cover the pan to speed up the veggies softening in this step.
Diced onions in olive oil in pan with wooden spoon.
Diced onions, chopped garlic, crushed red pepper and basil in olive oil in pan with wooden spoon.
  • Add the tomatoes, water and seasonings to the pan and stir to combine. Then, add the trimmed green beans and gently stir to immerse them in the sauce as much as possible.
    • PRO-TIP: A homemade tomato sauce can be used in place of the canned tomatoes. If you go this route, you can skip the onions and garlic in the recipe.
Water being added to pan.
Green beans just added to pan with tomato sauce mixture.
  • Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Then, partially uncover the pan and cook until the green beans are at your desired doneness. Stir and toss the mixture regularly during the cooking process. The liquid should begin to reduce while the beans and tomato sauce cook simultaneously.
    • PRO-TIP: Add more water if needed. Alternatively, if the sauce has too much liquid, completely uncover the pan while simmering.
  • Once the beans are at your desired doneness and texture, fold in more fresh basil and serve immediately or at room temperature. That’s it!
    • PRO-TIP: For a little extra flavor and richness, drizzle the finished dish with some high quality extra virgin olive oil. And, don’t forget to grab that piece of bread at the end and wipe your dish clean (fare la scarpetta)!
Green beans in tomato mixture in pan with tongs.

Serving Suggestions and Storage

Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce is certainly a hearty vegetarian entrée in its own right. But, as a side, I love it alongside a variety of dishes, like grilled meats or roasted sausages, meatballs, and simple pasta dishes like Linguine with Basil Pesto. I also serve this dish every Thanksgiving! It is a perfect accompaniment to a savory whole roast turkey or turkey breast.

And, on hot summer evenings, I enjoy eating just this alone or as a bruschetta topping on grilled bread! It’s great heated or at room temperature.

This dish can be made in advance and held in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 3 to 4 days. To reheat, add the green beans in sauce to a skillet with a small amount of water and cover until heated through. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure to thaw them completely before reheating.

Overhead view of three cooked turkey meatballs with pesto on plate with green beans in tomato sauce and basil garnish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about One Pot Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce: 

Can I use frozen or canned green beans for this recipe?

Yes. Since frozen green beans are actually blanched (boiled) quickly before being frozen, they will not need to be cooked as long as fresh beans. I suggest omitting the water in the recipe and letting the tomato sauce cook a bit before adding the frozen beans.

And, while canned beans technically work as well, I do not recommend using them for this recipe as they are often mushy, contain lots of sodium, and are generally not a quality product.

Should you boil the green beans first?

The beauty of this streamlined recipe is that it is all made in one pot and you do not need to separately cook (boil) the green beans prior to adding them to the tomato sauce. Enough water is added to the pan so that the beans can cook directly in the tomato sauce. Very easy!

What are the larger “Italian” green beans?

Also known as romano or pole beans. these are like a larger, flatter green bean that I have only found in farmers’ markets (or my backyard garden) in mid-late summer. In any case, they would be perfect in this recipe as an alternative to our beloved, everyday string bean, so definitely use them if you can find them!

Can I use prepared tomato sauce for this recipe?

Absolutely! Using a prepared sauce is a great idea and will result in a more flavorful dish as the sauce is already seasoned. In fact, if you go this route, you can skip the onions and garlic in the recipe.

Finished Italian green beans in tomato sauce on fork.

Recipe Variations for Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

Here are a few great suggestions for twists and additions to this Green Beans and Tomatoes recipe:

  • Add potatoes! To make this dish heartier, potatoes are often added to make Italian string beans and potatoes in red sauce. If you’d like to try this, add bite-sized chunks of an all-purpose potato to the pan along with the green beans and  increase the water by ½ cup or so.
  • Pork it up! I love the idea of adding some cured, salted pork products to this dish, like pancetta, bacon, guanciale, or even diced pepperoni! Reduce the amount of oil, then add the pork to the pan before the other ingredients and let the fat render a bit and the pork crisp up, then proceed with the recipe. Alternately, if you prefer a crispy element, remove the pork from the pan after it has crisped up, then add it back at the very end, or use it as a “pork crouton” when serving.
  • Add protein: If you’d like to make this dish more of a main meal for the meat eaters around your table, fold in some cooked chicken, sausage or meatballs at the end just to heat them through. All would be delicious additions!
  • Go ethnic! Other cultures have their own version of braised green beans. Check out the Lebanese version with cinnamon and cumin known as lubee and the Greek style green beans  with parsley and a little sugar known as fasolakia lathera. Both are delicious!
Finished Italian green beans in tomato sauce styled on plate.

If you’re looking for more delicious, vegetable side dishes, check out Sausage, Fennel and Mushrooms, Creamed Spinach with Croutons and Sautéed Broccoli Rabe.

Kitchen Tools For Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

To make this recipe, you’ll need the following:

Finished Italian green beans in tomato sauce styled on plate with fresh basil garnish.

More Great Recipes to Try

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Finished Italian green beans in tomato sauce styled on plate with fresh basil garnish.

One Pot Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

Michele
Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce is a delicious and easy, budget-friendly side dish that is perfect year-round and looks as at home on a weeknight menu as it does on a Sunday or holiday dinner table. And the best part is–it’s all made in one pot for seamless prep and clean-up!
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • cups diced yellow onion
  • ¼ cup chopped or thinly-sliced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand + ½ can water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • pounds string beans, ends trimmed

Instructions
 

  • Prep all ingredients according to specifications above. Then, combine the olive oil and onions in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until the onion starts to soften.
    ¼ cup olive oil, 1½ cups diced yellow onion
  • Add the garlic, ½ cup fresh basil and crushed red pepper and continue to cook until the garlic has softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
    ¼ cup chopped or thinly-sliced garlic, ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • Add the tomatoes, ½ can water, salt, black pepper and dried oregano to the pan and stir to combine. Then, add the trimmed green beans and gently stir to immerse them in the sauce as much as possible.
    1 (28-ounce) can can whole tomatoes,, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, Pinch dried oregano, 1½ pounds string beans,
  • Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Then, partially uncover the pan and cook until the green beans are at your desired doneness. Stir and toss the mixture regularly during the cooking process. The liquid should begin to reduce while the beans and tomato sauce cook simultaneously.
  • Add more water if needed. Alternatively, if the sauce has too much liquid, completely uncover the pan while simmering.
  • Once the beans are cooked, taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Then, fold in the remining ½ cup fresh basil. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • ½ teaspoon dried basil can be used in place of fresh basil. Add it to the pan along with the dried oregano.
  • I prefer a chunky sauce with texture. However, if you prefer a smoother sauce, either puree the canned whole tomatoes or use crushed tomatoes or tomato puree instead.
  • A prepared tomato sauce can be used in place of the canned tomatoes. If you go this route, you can skip the onions and garlic in the recipe.
  • For a little extra flavor and richness, drizzle the finished dish with some high quality extra-virgin olive oil.
  • This dish can be made in advance and held in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 3-4 days. To reheat, add the green beans in sauce to a skillet with a small amount of water and cover until heated through. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure to thaw them completely before reheating.
 
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
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16 thoughts on “One Pot Italian Green Beans in Tomato Sauce

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was perfect for a summer side. I only had a 36 oz can of peeled tomatoes. It worked out perfectly because I made some leftover with fresh fettuccine the next night! Highly recommend. This will be on repeat in my house!!

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, Nancy. I bet it was delicious with the pasta. 🙂

  2. you can serve this chilled ?

    1. Sure, if you would like! Room temperature would also be a great option.

  3. 5 stars
    Michele’s recipes are all so Delicious but this one is special to me. It was often a side dish when I was growing up. Do yourself a favor and prepare this one. You won’t be sorry.

    1. Aw, thank you so, so much, Carol! It makes me so happy that this recipe is special to you and that you enjoyed it. 🙂

      1. My mom used to make this but, she added potatoes to it. Either way, it sounds great! Going to make it tonight with beans from the garden.

    2. 5 stars
      Same here! My mother always added potatoes and chunks of pepperoni. The smell of it cooking just reminds how much I miss her! Now I want to try her pasta patate too….

  4. 5 stars
    So easy, quick and delicious! It’s a perfect summer side dish. Thanks, Michele, for a great recipe that the whole family enjoyed.

    1. My pleasure, Liz! I am so happy that you and your family enjoyed this recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    Made this recipe today using beans from my garden. It came out delicious very easy to make . Great side dish.

    1. So happy that you enjoyed this recipe, Maria! Thank you for the comment. 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve made these. They are super simple and delicious and go with so many summer dishes.

    1. Glad you enjoyed them!

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe brings back soooo many memories. Thank you for posting it! Can’t wait to make it.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Angelina! Let me know how you like the recipe once you try it. 🙂

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