eat RUNNER BEANS
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Fresh, young runner beans are a gem amongst the many wonderful vegetables available during the summer. At their best they are at once tender, succulent and bursting with flavour. There can be few better ways of serving runner beans than piled onto a plate alongside meltingly soft roast lamb, roast potatoes and gravy.
Runner beans are a good source of vitamin C, folic acid and fibre.
Look for pert well-coloured pods that snap easily with a crunch to reveal a fresh and juicy inside. The smaller and younger the better; oversized or withered beans aren't worth bothering with.
Runner beans will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days but, as with all legumes, the beans' sugars start turning to starch after picking and they are best eaten as soon as possible.
Wash the beans, top and tail, and remove the stringy bits running up both sides using a small knife or vegetable peeler. Some sources recommend soaking the beans before cooking. Very small and young beans can be served whole, either raw or briefly cooked. The majority of runner beans on sale are larger and need to be finely sliced (diagonally) so that the skin cooks relatively quickly, before the seeds have become too soft. Slicing is easiest with a bean slicer or similar hand-held gadget.
Runner beans can be boiled, steamed or stir-fried. They are best cooked until on the soft side of al dente (particularly when larger) for maximum flavour.
In many rural areas of Mexico it is common for the starchy roots of the runner bean plant, as well as the beans, to be used in cooking.