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Green Beans with sesame Dressing

2 Jun

This is one of the most simple yet delicious cooked vegetable salads you can make. It is part of an immense repertoire of lightly cooked vegetables or ‘salads’ in Japanese cuisine and one of my favourite ways of eating green beans. This salad is best served at room temperature so it can be made in advance and keeps or travels well, so great for picnics or dinner with friends. Serve as a side to rice and grilled fish or with a number of small salads.

  • 250g  green beans
  • 1-2 tbsp tamari or light soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan or skillet until golden brown, leave to cool then lightly crush, in a pestle and mortar, to release their flavour. Pinch off the growing end from the beans and pop into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes until the beans turn bright green and a little soft but still crisp then plunge into cold water to halt cooking and preserve their colour. Toss the beans with the soy and sesame and arrange in a serving dish. Serve at room temperature.

Cooks Note This dish can be made in advance and the salad will keep very well for a day so great for picnics or a packed lunch.

Runner Beans in Tomatoes

22 Aug

This little dish of runner or green beans gently stewed in oil and tomatoes has long been a favourite of mine. Its origins are probably Turkish or Greek. I remember eating several variations of it in Istanbul and in Greece many years ago. Like so many Mediterranean dishes it has few ingredients but the finished result is miraculously full of flavour. Serve as a side dish or part of a mezze spread or picnic.

Serves 2 Prep & Cook 30 minutes

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 150g Runner or Green beans, stalks removed
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 fat cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 4-5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan, throw in the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes then add the beans and tomato. Season and stir over a high heat to coat well. Reduce heat, cover and let the beans stew in the oily tomato sauce for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom, if it does add a little more oil or water. Serve as part of a mezze or as a side dish.

COOK’S TIP To freeze French beans; wash, top and tail and plunge into boiling salted water. I use a pasta pan with a removable drainer, which makes the job much easier. As soon as the beans turn a brighter darker shade of green (3-4 minutes) drain and plunge into ice-cold water to halt cooking and preserve the colour. When cool, drain well, bag up and freeze immediately.
Gardeners Note Great for gluts of beans and tomatoes in summer but it can also be made at any time of year with frozen beans and preserved tomatoes.

Green Bean and Coconut Fry

21 Aug

This is a delicious Indian style vegetable dish. Quickly fried with fragrant subtle spices and coconut to preserve the fresh taste of green beans. Great with dals and rice.

  • Green beans trimmed and cut into short lengths
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1-2 dried red chilis
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 3-4 tbsp grated fresh coconut
  • 1 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt

If you have one use a wok or a large wide pan. Heat a little vegetable oil and when hot throw in the dried chilli and cumin stir around until the chilli starts to darken then add the fennel and fenugreek. Don’t let the fenugreek brown or it will become bitter so quickly add the prepared beans. Stir fry until the beans turn bright green then add the coconut and green chilli cook for a minute or 2 longer but make sure not to over cook the beans. The dish will taste superb if you use fresh coconut but the dried desiccated stuff will give a good result particularly if soaked in a little water first and will need a little longer cooking. Season and sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Variations You can substitute runner beans, long beans or flat beans and this recipe works well with peas, asparagus and courgettes.

Chicken Dumpling Soup (Thai)

22 May

Chicken and rice dumplings simmered in a spicy coconut broth with vegetables.

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to make  Tom Kha Gai or chicken in coconut soup but I did not have enough chicken to feed everyone so I used rice to mix with the chicken and make tasty dumplings instead.  Delicious!

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup cooked cold white rice
  • 1 chicken breast
  • fresh coriander
  • 1 clove garlic
  • garlic chives or spring/green onions
  • a splash of fish sauce
  • a splash of soy sauce or pinch of salt
  • pinch freshly ground white or black pepper
  • 1 red or green chilli minced (optional)
  • 1 egg white
Bung the whole lot in a food process and pulse or finely mince all the ingredients together. Take a heaped tsp at a time, shape into balls then drop into the hot broth gently. The dumplings will rise to the surface when cooked, in about 5-7 minutes.
For the soup broth
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • red chilli sliced
  • sliced galangal
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
Put the ingredients for the soup broth into a roomy pan and bring to a simmer, drop the dumplings in to cook. After 5 minutes or so add some green vegetables. As soon as the vegetables are just cooked the soup is ready to serve. Check the seasoning and add a dash of fish sauce and / or a squeeze of lime to taste, ladle into bowls and scatter with a bit of fresh coriander, a few slices of red chilli or sliced spring onions.
Variations
Vegetables Use any green vegetables for colour and flavour such as green beans, runner beans, asparagus, garden peas, broccoli, mangetout peas, cabbage or pak choi
Noodles I sometimes serve this soup over noodles to make more of a meal of it. It is best to cook the noodles seperately to ensure that they don’t get over cooked any kind of oriental noodle works well, soba, vermicelli, yellow wheat noodles or big fat rice noodles. Just put a serving into each bowl and ladle the soup over them.
Tip To make your own stock simmer chicken bones with an onion, galangal, lemongrass and a few peppercorns.

Noodles with Peanut Dressing

8 Aug

Noodle salads are perfect summer lunch fare they also travel well so they make excellent picnic or lunch box food. This salad is dressed with crushed peanuts and oriental seasonings along with fresh cucumbers and mangetout from the garden, but you can use whatever is in season.


Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • green onions or garlic chives
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar or lime/lemon juice
  • chilli (fresh, ground or flaked) to taste (optional)
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • vegetables such as cucumbers and lightly cooked green beans or mangetout

In a large pan of water. Boil the noodles, for 3-7 minutes depending on the variety and packet instructions, until just cooked. Meanwhile slice the onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients, mix well to dissolve the sugar. When the noodles are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, and for a robust meal with some korean small dishes such as Green Onion Relish or Beansprout Salad .

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook the noodles when making this salad and any vegetables raw or lightly or cooked to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Noodles soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat which comes in a number of varieties and flavours, the ones use in the picture above are flavoured with une plums, you could also use rice or mung bean noodles or even whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative.

Tomato and White Bean Soup

2 Aug

This is such a lovely soup. Tangy iron-rich tomatoes with almost sweet, velvety white beans to give it an extra special dimension. Great in the summer when there are plenty of tomatoes in the garden or market and particularly good if you grown your own shelling beans.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 500g tomato pulp (peeled and chopped)
  • 200g fresh white beans or 100g dry (steeped and boiled til soft)
  • 1 litre stock or bean liquor
  • 1-3 bay leaf
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh Herbs such as: thym, parsley, rosemary or oregano

Fry the onion in a little olive oil with a dash of salt until soft then add the garlic and when it is aromatic add the tomatoes, stock and bayleaf . Season well and cook for 30 minutes or so. At this point you can liquidise the tomato soup, or pass it through a sieve for a smooth soup, if you like it with a bit of texture leave it as it is and add the beans and fresh herbs. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the beans are tender and serve scattered with a few more herbs.

TIP This soup is also a great storecupbaord staple using dried beans and bottled tomatoes.

Variation you can also use green beans, the long French types or runner beans cut into short lengths.

Salad Niçoise

8 Sep

I love this classic salad from Southern coastal France; a wonderful combination of cooked potatoes and green beans with fresh summer tomatoes and lettuce topped with seared tuna and olives. This is what the French call a salad composé, each diner is presented with a plate on which all the ingredients have been layered or composed ready to tuck in.

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until only just tender, then drain and set aside to cool. Cut the beans into bite size pieces and boil in salted water for 5-6 minutes or until the beans are only just cooked  drain and give them a little splash of olive oil, toss and set aside.

Meanwhile season a tuna steak with sea salt and cracked black pepper then pan fry or griddle on a high heat for a few minutes on either side until just cooked through, sprinkle with lemon juice and remove from the pan.

Meanwhile wash and tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and toss with a simple vinaigrette or Salad Dressing of your choice.

Arrange the dressed lettuce leaves on a plate then add a scatterring of cooked potatoes, slices of spring or salad onion and green beans then a layer of sliced tomatoes, cucumber or peppers according to your taste and what you have available and give it a pinch of sea salt as you go.  Top with the freshly cooked tuna and some black olives with the stones removed. Garnish with a pinch of chopped parsley for both looks and flavour. Serve with a little olive oil or salad dressing drizzled over the top.
VariationI often add sweet peppers, salad onions or cucumber too.

Long Beans Dry Fried

12 Oct

I came across a Szechuan style of cooking called gan bian or dry frying and I’ve adopted it for this recipe which really seems to bring out the flavour of the long beans. Serve on rice as a main dish, it is so tasty meat eaters won’t actually notice that there is no meat.
Serves 2 Prep 10min Cook 8 minutes

  • 200g long beans (sub green beans)
  • 1 tsp pure sesame oil
  • 2 shallots or spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 level tsp grated ginger
  • pinch of chilli powder 
  • 1-2 tbsp light soy sauce (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2-4 tbsp stock or water

Mix together the soy sauce, stock, sugar, chilli and set aside. Chop the beans into 2-4cm lengths and wash well.
Heat the wok until very, very hot and throw in the beans, you need nerve for this as there is no oil in the pan at this point, just keep it on a high heat shaking the pan every now and then until the beans start to catch and burn slightly at the edges, should take about 4 or 5 minutes. Then add sesame oil, shallots, ginger and garlic stir fry quickly for a few minutes more until the aroma rises. Pour in the sauce cook for a further minute and it is ready.

Garden Note I grow long beans also called asparagus beans, snake beans and yard long beans in the polytunnel. Sown late March they crop well from June to October. They grow about sixty cm long, round, pale green and crisp with a taste that is a surprising cross between a French green beans and mushrooms. The beans are absolutely delicious and one of the highlights of my summer harvest.
posted MDD 16/6/2007

Bean, Roquefort & Walnut salad

7 Oct

Lightly cooked green beans make a delicious salad ingredient, teamed with salty Roquefort cheese and walnuts they are divine. This protein rich salad makes a great vegetarian lunch, starter or light super while green beans are at their best from June to October.

  • Green Beans
  • Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • Walnuts, Shelled and bashed
  • Olive oil
  • Walnut Vinegar or a light vinegar or lemon juice

Pinch the growing ends off the beans and snap them in half. Drop the beans into a pan of boiling water and cook covered for 4-5 minutes then drain and rinse under cold water. While the beans are slightly warm sprinkle on some crumbled Roquefort and walnuts, drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of walnut vinegar. Toss well to coat then sprinkle a little extra crumbled Roquefort. & nuts over the top.

Cooks Note the ratio of nuts and cheese to beans is really a matter of taste, I like lots of everything. But do use freshly shelled nuts as the oil in walnuts like other nuts tends to get an acrid nasty taste when its old.

Recipe Source The inspiration for this recipe came from The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit, a great reference book on growing anything edible or useful. With this recipe I have simplified it by dropping the garlic, balsamic vinegar and seasoning as I think the fresh ingredients have enough flavour of their own. The simpler the better in my opinion.

Original post 21/6/2008

Pork & Long Bean Stir fry

23 Sep

This fragrant and spicy stir fry enhances the taste and texture of vegetables fresh from the garden. Variations of meat stir fried with long beans are found all over east Asia. This is my version using the best of our autumn garden produce; long beans, red peppers, chilli and Thai basil are stir fried with pork but you could easily leave out the meat.
Serves 2 Cook & Prep 20mins.

  • 1 pork chop, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Peanut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 200g french beans
  • 1-2 medium heat red peppers
  • 1 hot red chilli or 3 mild chillis
  • Large handful Thai basil (30-40 leaves)

sauce

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cut the pork chops into thin slices removing any bone. Put the slices in a bowl sprinkle with 2tsp of sesame oil and the cornflour and mix well, set aside while the rest of the ingredients are prepared.

Wash and trim the beans and cut into bite size lengths, chop the red peppers into small squares or strips, peel and chop the garlic, slice the chilli in half remove seeds and chop finely, pick the basil leaves from the stalks.

In a bowl mix together the sauce ingredients with the remaining 2 tsp of sesame oil and 4 tbsp of water.

Heat a large non stick pan or wok, add the peanut oil and just as it starts to smoke add the garlic, stir once. Add the pork and stir fry over a high heat until it is sealed and starting to brown. Add the peppers, basil, chilli and beans and continue stir frying for another minute. Pour in the sauce and cook for a further minute or two until the beans are bright green and cooked but still crisp. Serve with long grain white rice.

Variations: use mint instead of Thai basil. Add some sliced mushroom

Cooks TIP 1. Stir frying is a fast and furious business and it is essential that all the ingredients are prepared ready to just throw into the pan in their turn. 2. Coating the meat in corn flour before frying and simmering gives it protection so that it will remain soft and succulent. It will also help thicken the sauce slightly.
23/9/2006