Smoky Pole Beans and Tomatoes

Don't forget the bacon.

Smoky Pole Beans and Tomatoes
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
40 mins

This summer, our Southern vegetable plates are looking fresh and clean. For a substantial vegetable side, these Smoky Pole Beans and Tomatoes bring a refreshing, but still hearty approach to a plate of beans. But to start: what are pole beans? A variety of green beans that grow on climbing vines, pole beans are broad and flat, with a sweeter, starchier flavor than bush beans. Flat pole beans, which we call for here, have a meatier texture than regular green beans. Look for flat pole beans or romano beans at farmers' markets in the summer months.

When preparing pole beans, it's important to blanch the beans until they're mostly tender; they take much longer to cook through than green beans, so make sure to go for the full 5 to 7 minutes. Boiling the beans, then searing them in a skillet with bacon drippings ensures that they cook through on the inside, but gain a lovely charred exterior. Starting to cook the bacon in a cold pan will help more fat to render, which will result in crispier bacon (and leave you with plenty of drippings to cook the beans in).

In this pole beans recipe, the beans and tomatoes pick up lots of luscious smoky flavor—the beans from the bacon, and the tomatoes from smoked paprika. Bacon, smoked paprika, toasted spices, and seared beans add various levels of smoke and char throughout the dish. We'd serve these pole beans with a thick, juicy steak—now that's a summer cookout dream.


  • 3 tablespoons plus ¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh flat pole beans or Romano beans, trimmed and snapped into 3- to 4-inch pieces (about 6 cups)

  • 3 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces (about ½ cup)

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes

  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 1½ tsp.)

  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Bring 8 cups water and 3 tablespoons of the salt to a boil in a large pot over medium-high. Add beans; cook until almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well.

  2. Cook bacon pieces in a large skillet over medium, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet using a slotted spoon, and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve drippings in skillet. Add cumin and pepper to drippings. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add drained beans and ½ teaspoon of the salt; toss gently to coat. Increase heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans begin to char, about 5 minutes. Spoon beans into a bowl or onto a platter. Do not wipe skillet clean.

  3. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-high. Add oil, and swirl skillet to coat. Add tomatoes, garlic, smoked paprika, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes begin to burst, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon mixture over beans. Sprinkle with reserved bacon, and serve.

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