In the early fall, when for a few weeks tomatoes, potatoes, and green beans overlap at our farm, I always make this recipe. It contains nothing but those vegetables, plus an onion, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It makes a stand-alone dinner that is stew-like and hearty (thanks to all that olive oil, see recipe below). It can be served warm on a cold day and cold on a warm day. And when you make it, you will definitely want some bread on hand to sop up the last remaining juices in your bowl.
I learned this recipe from my aunt, whose husband is Greek, but my online research yielded Turkish versions of it. And, while discussing my dinner plans with a neighbor of Lebanese descent, the neighbor said she grew up eating this meal as well, and she thought of it as Lebanese. The recipe seems to be a tradition in countries surrounding the western Mediterranean sea. The variations are minor, such as adding lamb or chicken, adding spices, with the basic recipe remaining the same across the region.
Interestingly, both the potato and tomato are of South and Central American descent where they have been cultivated for at least 2500 years (in the case of potatoes, 8000 years; McGee, Smith). They did not spread to other areas of the world until after the 1500’s, when the Spanish colonized the Americas. Once they started being cultivated in Western Europe, tomatoes took to the climate around the Mediterranean so well that they became a staple in many cuisines.