Cooking With Beans

Bored of boiled beans? The first crop in the season is always welcome, but after a few weeks of stringy runners and overgrown broad beans, you’re all beaned‐out. Whether you grow your own or buy in bulk from the market, it’s time to expand your bean recipe repertoire. Try our inventive recipes and make the most of your bean glut.

New Ideas for Beans…

Beans grow like blazes – you can fill a bag for the neighbours, chop them for the freezer, eat them all week, and still have beans hanging mournfully from their poles when you return to the vegetable patch. But here are some exciting bean recipes to liven up your beanery…

Slow‐Cooked French Beans and Flatbread

Slow‐cooking French beans is a technique common to Middle Eastern and some Mediterranean cuisines. This oily, tomatoey stew is eaten at room temperature as part of a tapas or mezze feast. It transforms French beans from squeaky ropes to luscious, faded morsels. And it’s super‐easy.

Recipes vary ‐ you can add Hungarian paprika or pomegranate molasses to the basic template ‐ but here’s a good one to begin with. Soften an onion and two cloves of garlic in 3tbsp olive oil in a heavy casserole pot, add 400g chopped beans and a half teaspoon of salt and stir well. Add 400g chopped tomatoes (ideally fresh but tinned will do), cover the pot and simmer it for 1‐2 hours. Serve at room temperature. To accompany: warm up some store‐bought flatbread (or sharing bread) and eat with barbecued lamb or salad.

Haricot Bean and Leek Tartlets

Another extremely easy bean recipe – this one for Haricot beans, or any white beans, including white runners and proper French haricot and cannellini varieties.

Soften 1 leek in 1tbsp butter, and put it into a cooked 8″ (20cm) pastry case. On top, arrange 125g cooked white beans. Grate 125g cheddar and mix it with 1tsp mustard powder; sprinkle this mixture over the beans. Finally, beat 1 egg with 150ml milk and pour this over everything. Bake at 200 degrees C for 35‐40 minutes, until the flan is set, and serve at room temperature.

Broad Bean Risotto with Pecorino

Impress your spouse or relatives with this fancy‐looking supper. You can also add shredded wild garlic leaves, fresh peas, and baby leeks to the basic recipe. To present the risotto, preheat the plates in a low oven. Put a neat mound of risotto on the middle of each plate, then top with Pecorino shavings (use a potato peeler) and broad bean sprouts (the fine tips at the tops of the plants). Drizzle olive or truffle oil lightly around the periphery.

For 2 people:

  • 1‐ 1 ½ cup shelled broad beans
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 1 young onion, diced
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 400ml vegetable stock (choose a good brand such as Marigold)
  • 50g finely grated Pecorino
  • OPTIONAL: Broad bean tips, extra Pecorino, truffle oil


First prepare the broad beans: bring a pan of water to the boil and drop them into it. After 3‐4 minutes, drain the beans and slip off the skins using your fingers as soon as they are cool enough to handle.

Soften the onion in the butter without letting it brown (a baby leek is a good substitute for the onion if preferred). Stir in the rice until it glistens. Now tip in the white wine and stir until it’s almost vanished. Continue to add the stock, stirring after each addition to massage the starch in the rice and cook it evenly. Add the broad beans with the final addition of stock. Once all the stock has been used test the rice and see if it will need any more stock ‐ remembering that it does continue to cook as you’re adding cheese and serving. As soon as it’s just tender, stir in the Pecorino to blend; then dish up quickly, garnish as you like, and enjoy!

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