No longer the ‘has bean’!

beansAh the joys of growing your own vegetables… you stare at your courgette, runner bean or tomato plants for weeks and weeks and nothing happens. And then suddenly – whoosh – they all ripen at the same time!

We are currently awash with courgettes and runner beans and trying all sorts of different recipes and playing ‘swapsies’ with other veg growers. But it is all great fun and tremendously satisfying to eat what you have grown.

I love runner beans (luckily!) but coming up with different ways of preparing them can be a challenge. The beans have to be trimmed before cooking, so they need top and tailing and the fibrous strings on each side need to come off as they can be tough and difficult to digest. An old farmer friend who used to grow masses of runner beans every year recommended this nifty bean slicing device (pictured). It is brilliant at producing beautifully cut beans quickly and easily. I can buy the bean slicer in my local Devon ‘sells everything’ shop, but if you can’t find one, try online. It really is a fab kitchen gadget!

beanslicerThe key to good runner beans is to pick them before they get too big and woody and not to cook them for too long, otherwise they become tough and grey and they lose flavour and nutrients. The poor old runner bean does get a bit of a bad press as so often we just boil them and stick them on the side of the plate next to sausages or Sunday roast. But they are great in their own right and versatile and you can do much more with them.

Quite often it is just a case of combining the cooked beans into a salad. I always steam mine, retaining the colour and texture and often add them to salads. As soon as you have streamed them, run them under cold water, shake dry and mix in with whatever salad takes your fancy. For a quick and healthy lunch, I love mixing them with feta cheese, spring onion and a sweet homegrown tomato or two finished with a drizzle of salad dressing. If you like fruity salads, why not try grilled nectarine and parma ham with a runner bean salad – it’s the perfect summer salad, chock-full of seasonal flavours. If you look online you will find thousands of recipe ideas for how to deal with your runner bean glut.

beansfriedHow you cut your beans will dictate what you can do with them. Thinly cut with my magic bean slicer and they are great in salads… but if you want to cook them in a dish, such as a curry or a stir fry, top and tail them and then cut into angled chunks. They are then quite robust and won’t fall apart. For an interesting hot dish, you could try sautéed runner beans with onion and garlic. Simply crush a clove of garlic and fry with some chopped red onion in olive oil until the onions are soft and golden– make sure you don’t burn the garlic or it will be bitter. Add in the beans (top and tailed, raw and cut into chunky slices) and sauté until they are crisps and also tender. Sea salt and fresh ground pepper are the finishing touch, although a splash of really good balsamic vinegar added at the end of cooking lends a sweet and pleasantly tang. Delicious!



5 replies
  1. Mavis says:

    I have been told that wasps do not like lavender ? So I have started lighting lavender candles in the house and on the garden table, I have to say it seems to work, and I see bees, hover flys, butterfly’s and moths on lavender but never a wasp.

  2. Pauline Preece says:

    Those beans look beautiful and tender. All of our home grown fruits and veggies seem to all ripen together around this time,there was no frost in Worcestershire when the fruit blossoms were out,so now there is jam making aplenty. green bean chutney is a must to make as are the various chutneys which will carry on your enjoyment for your spring and summers toiling. Have fun eating your wonderful goodies Joanna,xxx

  3. Susan says:

    I just love all beans (beans, beans, a wonderful fruit – etc) and use them in all sorts of ways. I have a lovely piccalilli recipe which uses runners beans. As you say Joanna, they are robust and don’t fall apart. Earlier this summer, my “has bean” broad beans made wonderful hummus when they got too big. Nothing is wasted in this house! And if you are overrun with veg you can always give them away. I have a “help yourself donation to charity tray”, which I put out when beans and courgettes take over, and they all go within minutes. Happy gardening everyone.

  4. Caroline Reed says:

    hi Joanna,
    you could always freeze some of your beans for a later time. It’s a good way of saving money when there is a plentiful supply of fresh veggies that are in season.
    love Caroine xxx


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