Anyone that grows runner beans know they’re pretty bountiful during the height of their season. They’re a reliable and fruitful plant once they get going. This year, the climate has been rather unusual, I wonder why… May saw an incredibly wet and a cold spell, which was soon after many of us got sowing. Out of all of my green beans and peas, my runner beans fought through the untimely weather and are producing an excellent crop, despite the odds being against them.
They’re one of the easiest vegetables to grow and great for those starting out on their growing ventures. With striking red flowers, they light up any plot be it large or small, they twist and wind themselves around anything they can latch onto and lend themselves to being supported by wig-wams or canes.
Runner beans are legumes which are well known for their good nutritional values. Legumes are a cheap means of protein, fibre and vitamins. Runner beans in-particular are an excellent source of:
- Fibre – good for keeping things moving
- Vitamin A – important for immune system support and maintaining eye health
- Vitamin C – important for brain health and collagen production, a structural protein which is critical in keeping us together, literally.
- Folic Acid – important for red blood cells
It’s also worth pointing out that they’re highest in their nutritional goodies when raw. So use up younger beans raw in salads to get the best out of them.
Ideas to chomp on
Sometimes you can end up with more beans than you know what to do with! They’re great in casseroles, stir fries and stews, so don’t overlook the endless possibilities.
Young shots that aren’t too large and therefore not too fibrous are perfect for just snipping straight off the plant and popping into a salad or using a vegetable sticks. Eaten raw soon after picking, they are sweet yet earthy; they’ve got a clean and crisp bite to them. The key is eating them quickly after harvesting for maximum sweetness, as the longer you leave them, the carbohydrates start to break down into starches therefore losing the sweet flavour that makes eating them raw a delight.
- Have them with with hummus or tzatziki alongside carrots and cucumber for an extra bit of variation to veg and dips.
- Alternatively chop into 1cm chunks and fold into a salad, dressed with olive oil
Pan Fried Runner Beans
Everything is good when fried in butter right? Yes. Correct answer.
- Top, tail and cut the beans diagonally into small chunks.
- I like runner beans with a bit of crunch so I opt for frying with the onions, however if you prefer you can boil and cook in salted water for approx 3-4 minutes in otherwise, skip to the next step and fry it all in one pan.
- Melt a knob of butter (30g or so) in a pan and fry of a small onion or shallot until soft and slightly brown. Add a dash (1 tsbp) of white wine or cider vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar (for caramelisation of the onions) Add in the beans and fry off for a further few minutes on a medium-high heat.
Recipe for the perfect seasonal picnic treat can be found here