How to Use All Those Runner Beans

Edible Campus Food growing Recipe

Isabelle Low

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.