I am a bit of an old romantic who loves a good fairy tale, and, this growing season, I feel that I have lived my very own fantasy, given the strength and vigour of my runner beans. They really do seem to have aimed for the sky, and, when I peer up at them, I can imagine them pushing through the clouds, into the mystic realms above.
Runner beans epitomize the English summer for me and I simply couldn’t wait to sow them. I was openly mocked by my gardening friends for my urgency, embedding them into cool, hard soil, ridiculously early, in a very mild and quite damp spring. Yes, I know that acting in haste is a pre-cursor to a leisurely repentance, but I forged ahead, nonetheless.
Unlike the fairly tale, I procured my bean seeds with real money and no cows were exchanged in the process; but that was pretty much the only difference; the rest was pure enchantment.
They germinated in record time and the beanpoles I initially provided were all too soon redundant. Within weeks, the fledgling bean plants required reinforcements and they outgrew these new poles at an alarming rate. I constructed yet another framework for them to climb and they enthusiastically twisted and twirled their way up these, sending out more and more, remarkably strong stems and, when I had exhausted my supply of framework apparatus, they shot skywards, supporting themselves with nothing but sheer willpower.
The bean harvest has been phenomenal, each picking resulting in a new flush of flowers and baby beans. They are unrelenting with their generosity and I am so grateful for their flavoursome gifts.
Very young beans can be eaten raw, but even the larger beans are tender enough to require only a few minutes cooking and are void of strings. I love runner beans with a roast dinner, especially roast beef or chicken, and it is these two favourite roasts that have inspired my runner bean recipe.
Hot horseradish with sweet runner beans is a match made in heaven, and as horseradish is a great pal of roast beef, makes a perfect vegetable accompaniment to it.
Hot lemon and horseradish runner beans
This vegetable side dish makes a lovely accompaniment to roast beef.
- 400g young runner beans
- 1 tablespoons mild olive oil
- Finely grated zest of 1 large, un-waxed lemon
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish root
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Top and tail the runner beans then, slice them on the diagonal.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the beans and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and set aside.
- Return the pan to the heat and add the oil, lemon zest and horseradish. Cook briefly for a few seconds, until aromatic, then, add the beans. Season with salt and pepper and shake vigorously to mix well. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.