Vegetable of The Week: Green Beans
How to get the most out of the humble green bean
Each week plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, will give us the lowdown on a particular seasonal vegetable or ingredient, offering cooking tips and a recipe. This week it’s green beans.
As we enter the month of September, we still have some of the abundant harvest from the summer – but we are slowly entering the autumnal season, when pod beans come into season. There are over 130 varieties, but the green bean varieties are the most common and the easiest to grow at home.
First thing’s first: green beans (phaseolus coccineus) and runner beans (phaseolus vulgaris) are two different plants. Runner beans are cheaper and the plants yield more, but the surface of the bean is rough and flat, and the green pods need to be de-strung and cut into smaller pieces. Boil them for three minutes, toss in olive oil, fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon and finish with salt and pepper. If you don’t have time they’re not worth bothering with, but if you have grown them yourself make time for them as they are delicious.
Green beans are my favourite bean to eat and cook with. They can be eaten raw, cooked or blanched. One of my favourite ways to cook green beans is to blanch them until tender yet crisp and dip them into a vinaigrette; this makes a lovely starter. Green beans also make a great low-carb snack, and are a wonderful addition to salads, casseroles and soups.
Below is my all-time favourite green bean recipe. It uses a French bean, but any type of green bean will do. I love using the long flat beans that you will find at farmers markets at the end of summer.
This recipe was handed down to me by two amazing Egyptian clients who insisted that they teach me one of their traditional dishes whilst attending one of my wellness retreats. I have been cooking it ever since – and every time I do it converts non-green bean eaters into newfound fans.
Recipe: Smoky Sumac Green Beans
- 500g (1lb 2 oz) green beans – any type, flat or French, trimmed
- Olive oil, for frying
- 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (red pepper flakes)
- 400g (14oz) tin of good-quality tomatoes
- 1–2 Medjool dates, stoned and pitted
- Pink Himalayan salt or sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley or coriander
- Handful of watercress or rocket
- Handful of chopped nuts
- Tidy up the beans. If you are using big flat beans chop them into 4 pieces, if you are using French beans, cut them in half.
- Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and onion and gently fry for about 10 minutes until soft.
- Add the sumac and the chilli and give everything a good stir, then add the beans, salt and pepper and tomatoes. Put a lid on and gently simmer for 15 minutes.
- Check on the beans once and give them a stir. For the last 10 minutes of cooking, tear a date or two into the mix and stir. Take the lid off and let it simmer. This can be eaten straight away or made and enjoyed later, as long as it’s stored in an airtight container. I like to top mine with rocket, chopped nuts and some parsley or coriander.
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