I learned this recipe many years ago from a fearless, adventurous Ligurian woman named Bianca. She lived in a charming pink villa high atop the hills overlooking the Mediterranean on the Levante side of the Italian Riviera. The villa’s sweeping terrace presided over the sea and from that vantage point you could see the small peninsula of Portofino in the short distance.
I had the fortunate honor of staying there for a full month. And every day of that month I gravitated to the kitchen to see what Bianca was cooking. I spent the other hours mining her Italian cookbook collection and sitting at a cafe in the nearby seaside town of Zoagli, translating captivating recipes into my notebook.
This potato-string-bean “cake” is one of hers. This is her exact recipe. The pie is great as a snack, a side, a picnic dish, or a full meal if you like at any time of day.
Peel and quarter 4-5 medium gold potatoes. Boil till tender. Drain & mash.
Boil till tender about 2 pounds tipped green beans/string beans. Drain. Pulse in a food processor until broken up but not pureed.
Peel and dice 1 medium onion. Simmer in a little milk diluted with water until tender. Drain.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the potatoes, string beans, onion, 3 eggs, and 1/2 cup grated parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Butter a 9 x 13 inch sheet pan. Coat butter with breadcrumbs and shake out excess. Press mixture into pan evenly. Press the top with the tines of a fork to make a pattern. Sprinkle some more parmigiano. Drizzle a little olive oil.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until golden.
Let cool before cutting into squares.
I learned recently that the villa Bianca I lived in is now open for vacation rentals. Looking at the pictures on the new website representing the house wows my memories. Everything looks the same. Everything as beautiful as my memories. Villa Bianca
Riviera Potato & Green Bean Pie
4-5 medium gold potatoes
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. green beans (string beans)
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmigiano, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the potatoes and quarter them. Boil in salted water until soft and cooked through. Drain and mash potatoes. Boil string beans until cooked through. Drain and pulse them in a food processor until they are broken up but not as far as pureed. Heat the onion in a small saucepan with the milk and a 1/4 cup water. Cook till softened. Drain.
Mix together the mashed potatoes, pulsed beans, cooked onions in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, and cheese, season with salt & pepper. Mix well. Butter a 9 X 13 sheet pan. Coat with the breadcrumbs and shake out excess. Press in the potato mixture until flattened and even. Using the tines of a fork press a pattern on the top. Sprinkle with parmigiano. Drizzle a little olive oil.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Let cool before cutting into squares for serving.