Have I raved to you about Penelope Casas’ Green Bean recipe, rightfully enshrined as a Food52 “Genius Recipe?” Read the description and follow it closely.

You take your beans and sear them in a hot, oily pan, and they steam and char at the same time, retaining lots of bean-taste. When they’re done, toss them in chopped garlic and salt.

This method is flexible to flavours that go around the world– ginger and garlic and soy sauce for a Chinese mood, mustard seeds and chilis for South Asian, add coconut milk for a Thai feeling.. you get the idea.

I’d been wondering about Runner Beans, those prolific stalwarts of the British summer veg patch.  I’ve never managed to love them as deeply as I do green beans/ string beans/ French beans (as they are called here).

But I want to love them.

So I was so happy when at the car park at our nearest train station I saw a local man had set up this table.  I was attracted to the tomatoes and the heavenly scent of the Sweet Pea flowers.   So I rang the bell. And rang and rang it more and more furiously and eventually he emerged from the woods.

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Everything was for sale for £1 a bag.  I bought the tomatoes, the flowers (how could I resist?) and two bags of runner beans, which he’d generously and labouriously shred.  He sells them pre-cut,  he said, because he’s aware that many people have “poorly hands,” tender with arthritis, and the preparation of runner beans can hurt.  That seemed to me a profound act of compassion.

I cooked them: this lot in coconut oil with chopped ginger and garlic:


This bunch in lard I’d rendered from a pig who’d had a happy life (that’s a story), then at the end added some tomatoes, garlic and red wine vinegar:


And this dish is closest to the original Penelope Casas recipe, just garlic, but finished with a little lemon.


I love the slight charcoal taste.  I love the moreish, garlicky, salty savour.  I love this recipe.  Please make it yours as well.