From cook Rosetta Costantino, whose family emigrated from Italy when she was 14 and set about growing and preserving as much as they could in their own traditions. Now Costantino teaches her own classes in Sonoma, and is collaborating with author Jane Fletcher, who first wrote about her five years ago:
My father grows only the flat Italian-style Romano beans in our garden; they have a sturdy texture and intense flavor. You can make this salad with other green beans, but the Romano type is preferred in Calabria. Note that we cook them beyond al dente; we don't like crunchy beans. We keep the garlic in large chunks because it is just for seasoning; we don't eat it. You can cook the beans an hour or two ahead, but don't dress them more than 30 minutes before serving or the vinegar will alter their color.
• 1-1/2 pounds (675 grams) flat Italian-style green beans, such as Romano beans, ends trimmed
• Kosher salt
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
• 6 garlic cloves, each cut into 3 or 4 pieces
• Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and 2 tablespoons salt. Boil until the beans are tender, with no crunch, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain in a colander but do not rinse. Let the beans cool and air dry in the colander.
Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and toss with the olive oil, vinegar, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the beans to absorb the flavors. Taste again and adjust the seasoning if necessary.