Our Edible Campus gardens are currently awash with runner beans. They are one of the superheroes of any vegetable garden: reliable to grow, prolificly productive, no significant predators or diseases, plus they give a payback by setting nitrogen into the soil. Their only drawback is that they need to be planted out only when the risk of overnight frost has passed so it’s a matter of waiting, waiting, waiting….
But how to use them all? Here are 5 suggestions:
· As salad: washed and cut up (the traditional way is lengthwise but 2 cm diagonal slices are just as good) then lightly steamed for about 5 minutes max depending on size, they are a great basis for an autumn salad, combined with a drained tin of haricot or cannellini beans plus either new potatoes or pasta with a tad of dressing (I add garlic for punch).
· With pasta: as above but added to hot pasta mixed with pesto. Pesto doesn’t need to be made just with basil: all soft herbs will work well too as do rocket or kale or spinach: just blend with garlic, a handful of nuts and some olive oil until smooth.
· As soup: at the moment I am gorging on minestrone made with chopped onion, chopped potato, chopped carrot and chopped runner beans turned in a small amount of oil then with a tin of baked beans and some vegetable stock and a handful of pasta added. Cook for 10 minutes and then add chopped up chard or kale or spinach. A meal in a bowl.
· As curry: braise chopped onion, chopped garlic, chopped chilli and chopped root ginger until soft; then add spicing (choose your own blend), add chopped potato, chopped runner beans and either cooked dal or a tin of chickpeas and cook for 10 minutes. Then add lots of chopped greens: spinach or kale or chard. Great with either rice or naan.
· Finally if you have too much to use now, wash, chop and blanche and freeze in sealable plastic bags: it will see you through the winter!
All these vegetables are currently available from an Edible Campus garden near you.