Fine Beans

I have found that my French beans have provided hundreds of bean pods this year. I was warned before I planted them that they would provide more than enough, but I continued anyway. I planted 22 plug plants (from suttons seeds) to give me 3 different colours of bean – purple, green and yellow. These grew really well, so well in fact that you might be able to say that I have had a glut of bean pods.

This is not a bad glut to have. As you will see below there are a range of recipes that you can use these beans within, and that is not all. The beans work well preserved. I will have recipes for preserved beans in the next few weeks.


In the Garden

These plants need little encouragement. As long as they have a bamboo cane to climb up and enough water they are happy. They grow much the same as runner beans or other climbing beans (dwarf varieties grow more like peas).
Start indoors (2 beans per pot) and nip off the growing tip of the weaker. You do need to protect from pigeons, who have a habit of nipping off the growing tip.
 
The plants can get huge. I mean actually huge. I have grown them interspersed with Gigantes beans: I have ended up with a wall of beans. See what I mean?
In between the rows I grew some gladioli which I cut for flowers for my house, but at the point of this photo they added to the pollinator’s joy! In front, you may be able to see a grow bag, I decided to try potatoes in bags this year.

Most people tell you to grow the beans either in a double row (a fancy way to say two rows, with an A frame out of Bamboo), or on a tepee – 5 or 6 bamboo canes coming to a point in the centre. The main reason for these is that they take up less room, but also that the pollinators find it easier to the next flower. This year I have grown them in a row. I have planted 16 canes, with 32 plants (you can plant 2 plants per cane quite happily).

In the Kitchen

Beans are very easy to grow and take up little room. You can grow different varieties which have slightly different flavours but most of all the different colours can look incredible on a plate. Having the purple, yellow and green together can make people so happy and can really improve the look of a plate of food from bland to exciting. However when you have a glut of fine beans you find any way to use them, and often they end up being the side to a roast chicken or piece of beef. There is so much more that they can be used for!

French Beans with Lemon Pesto: 
This is a lovely simple recipe for a light meal.  I like the colour given by using a mix of the purple, green and yellow beans (the purple turn a dark green when cooked).

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE BEANS
  • 500g of French beans,
  • Teaspoon of salt
  • Teaspoon of pepper

For the pesto:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 30g lemon basil
  • 20g parmesan
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 15g pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • A scattering of toasted pine nuts
  • A scattering of basil leaves

METHOD:

  1. Boil the beans in enough water to cover them and add the salt and pepper.  This should take about 5 minutes from when the water starts to boil.
  2. While they are boiling make the pesto.  Crush the two cloves of garlic and chop finely. Then place in a mortar.  Tear the lemon basil and crush the pine nuts and place in the mortar.  Add grated parmesan to the mortar and start crushing with the pestle.
  3. Drizzle in olive oil as you mix.  You want to leave some texture to the pesto.
  4. Once boiled strain out the water from the beans using a colander. Place the beans back in the pan.
  5. Add the pesto to the pan with the beans and mix until the beans are coated.
  6. Serve the beans into a single large bowl and top with fresh pine nuts, leaves of lemon basil, and a good helping of grated parmesan.

INGREDIENTS – SUMMER SALAD

  • 12 mixed tomatoes
  • A handful of mixed lettuce leaves
  • A handful of broad beans
  • 2 handfuls of fine beans
  • 2 yellow courgettes
  • 6 olives
  • 6 radishes
  • A teaspoon of fresh oregano
  • A teaspoon of fresh chopped chive
  • Salt to season
  • Pepper to season
  • Olive oil to drizzle

METHOD

  1. Start by boiling the broad beans and the fine beans in a pan together.
  2. While this is happening finely slice the courgette and put on a baking tray to grill in the oven. Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven under a hot grill. This should take 7 minutes at most.  Keep a close eye on it.
  3. Chop up the tomatoes into random small sizes and shapes. Add to your serving bowl.
  4. Add the mixed laves to your serving bowl.  Chop up the larger ones.
  5. Chop the olives into small rings and scatter among the salad.
  6. Take out the broad beans after 5 minutes but leave the fine beans in the hot water. Scatter the broad beans in the salad.
  7. When courgettes are cooked take out and place on one side.
  8. Take fine beans out and cut into inch long pieces. Add to the serving bowl.
  9. Cut the radish into thin slices and add to the bowl.
  10. Add the herbs to the serving bowl.
  11. Mix the bowl together and place the crispy pieces of courgette on top. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Green (Yellow) Bean and Cashew Nut Pasta

Egg pasta is a lovely thing to make yourself and it is very simple.  I find that 1 large egg per 100g of flour is best for a plain pasta.  For this recipe I wanted the pasta to be an orange colour, so I have used some tomato puree into to the mix, and as a result I have added more flour to the mix (because of the extra moisture). Enjoy this one.


INGREDIENTS – PASTA (SERVES 4)

  • 500g 00 flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • teaspoon of salt


INGREDIENTS – SAUCE

  • 20 yellow French beans, cut into small lengths
  • Juice and zest of two lemons
  • 4 courgette flowers chopped finely
  • 20 cashew nuts
  • Olive oil
  • A handful of chopped basil
  • A handful of chopped parsley


METHOD

  1. Start by making the pasta. Place the tomato puree into a bowl with the egg yokes and whites. Mix in the salt until you get a deep orange coloured mix.
  2. Pour the flour into a separate bowl with steep sides. You do not want to lose any when mixing later.
  3. Make a hole in the centre of the flour so that it looks a bit like a volcano. Pour the egg mix into this depression.
  4. Start mixing in the flour by pushing in a small amount of flour at a time. Keep stirring the egg as you do this until eventually all of the flour is incorporated.
  5. Once all flour is incorporated you need to continue to mix the pasta dough and then start kneading it to activate the gluten.
  6. The dough will become more solid and start bouncing back. At this point wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for an hour.
  7. While the pasta is resting prepare the sauce: boil the yellow beans for 7 minutes in salted water, then drain and let cool.
  8. Once cool, chop the beans into small pieces. Finely chop the courgette flowers and mix together.
  9. Add the cashew nuts whole, the basil and parsley (both finely chopped) and then add the lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Mix and then leave to rest.
  10. Once the pasta has rested take out of the fridge and using a pasta maker roll out. Follow the instructions here to see how to roll out pasta well.
  11. Cut the pasta into tagliatelle strips and then submerge in salted boiling water for about 4 minutes. Test to see if done to your liking (I prefer slightly al dente).
  12. Drain the pasta and then mix in the lemon sauce before piling onto plates. Top off with any excess lemon sauce and then shavings of parmesan.

And there you have it, three nice recipes for your fine beans. I hope you enjoy them, please leave your comments below.