If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and flavorful side dish that uses height of the season fresh vegetables, this is it! Green beans with caramelized onions and tomatoes is perfect warm or room temperature, making it a great potluck pick, too.
We’ve been eating green beans sautéed with balsamic caramelized onions and fresh tomatoes for years now. It’s an in-season, super simple side dish recipe that is loaded with flavor.
Loaded. Really – I’m going to use that word here and you’ll just have to trust me. This is one of my favorite things to make when the beans and tomatoes are coming in from the garden.
While it’s not quite as simple as these amazing garlic green beans, it’s just a few more steps and still finished in under 15 minutes.
And those caramelized onions? That added flavor is to.die.for.
What kind of tomatoes can I use?
The tomatoes can be anything you’re harvesting from the garden. I’m showcasing small grape tomatoes in these photos, but I also really like using thickly chopped roma tomatoes.
If you would like to use heirloom tomatoes for their lovely flavor, I would cut them in half and then squeeze out the seeds and juice before roughly chopping them just to minimize the amount of juice they put off when heated.
Are green beans good for you?
Green beans are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin K and silicon which we need for healthy bones, skin, and hair.
Does boiling green beans remove nutrients?
Green beans have been found to keep their antioxidant levels after most cooking methods, so feel free to steam (like this recipe), boil, or roast. Source
Green Beans with Caramelized Onions & Tomatoes
This recipe uses simple ingredients, all conveniently ready at the same time in the garden (or from the farmers market). And butter, because so many things are better with butter.
- fresh green beans
- chopped onion
- halved or chopped tomato
- butter (however, feel free to use olive oil for a dairy free option)
- balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper
- dried red pepper flakes (optional)
To make this recipe first you’ll steam the green beans in a little water until crisp-tender. Drain when cooked to your liking.
While the beans are steaming, cook the onion in butter (or oil), stirring occasionally, until onions start to caramelize (about 5 to 8 minutes).
Add a tablespoon (or so…) of balsamic vinegar and cook for about a minute before adding the tomatoes, salt and pepper.
You’ll just stir to combine them and then remove from heat. Also, sprinkle some dried hot peppers to taste. Yes, go ahead…you’ll be glad you did.
Oh my. I can smell that caramelized goodness just looking at the picture. At this point taste to check the seasonings. Oh, yes…taste away.
At this point you can plate them like I did, layering the beans on a platter and then topping with the caramelized onions and tomatoes.
Or just toss it all together in a serving bowl- whatever suits your mood for that day.
You can add a 1/4 cup feta cheese garnish (really good) or parmesan cheese. Or mix it up by adding a clove of garlic and some fresh herbs (thyme is especially good) at the end of cooking the onions.
It’s easy to play around with this dish.
But when it comes to eating them, you are not going to want to play around with these beans, again…trust me.
Unless, apparently, you’re my son who informed me he doesn’t even like “the smell of caramelized onion.” How could I have birthed someone who doesn’t like caramelized onions?
Can I make this with frozen green beans?
Probably, though I haven’t. Here’s what I would do since I don’t care for frozen green beans steamed (even frozen without blanching which helps with the squeaky-rubbery texture a LOT):
Roast the green beans while making the onion-tomato mixture! I’ve had good success with roasting frozen beans. Here’s how:
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place frozen beans in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix together.
- Make sure beans are still in a single layer and then roast for 10-15 minutes or until done to your liking.
- Proceed with the recipe.
Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes
- 3-quart saucepan
- 10-inch skillet
- 1 pound green beans trimmed and cut
- 2 tablespoons butter divided**
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 Roma paste-type tomatoes, cored & chopped*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon dried red chili peppers or to taste
- Steam green beans in a large pot lined with a steamer basket and filled with water to the bottom of the basket (alternately, you can boil the beans in a large pot filled with about 3 quarts of salted water). In both cases, you'll want to cook just until crisp-tender: bring water to a boil, add beans, and cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes, depending on size.
- Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 5-8 minutes. Add garlic variation here if using.
- Add balsamic vinegar and cook a minute before adding the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and dried chili peppers and any optional herbs. Cook another 1-3 minutes, and then remove from heat.
- Drain the beans when they are done and toss with the remaining butter and more salt and pepper as you'd like.
- Serving Options: 1)Place the beans on a serving plate and top with the onion-tomato mixture, OR 2) Toss it all together and serve in a bowl. Top with cheese variation if desired.
- Add fresh herbs (2 tablespoons thyme and rosemary, or 1/4 cup chopped basil) at the same time as the tomatoes.
- Add 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced, at the end of caramelizing the onions.
- Top the finished dish with 1/4 cup crumbled or shredded cheese like feta, goat, or parmesan.
More Green Bean Recipes to Try
This recipe has been updated – it was first published in September of 2010.
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