SPRING HAS FINALLY SPRUNG

Posted on 2nd June, 2018

Sowing seeds, planting out vegetable seedlings and tending the globe artichokes, strawberries and raspberries have pretty much taken up my evenings and weekends for the last couple of weeks. However it does mean that peas, runner beans and borlotti bean plants are all now in the ground and responding well to the warm damp days. I’ve also sown rocket, what else!, and in 3 days there’s signs of green all along the row, it’s such a rewarding and easy plant to grow even if all you’ve got is pots on a patio. There’s still time to pick up salad leaf seeds, radishes and a host of other easy to grow seeds and plug plants so I hope you have a go this year.

 

I’m particularly pleased that I managed to get the borlotti beans in as these beans are so useful to freeze when ripe. I still have a few left from last Autumn’s harvest and as the weather has turned a bit wet and grey I decided to make a fresh borlotti stew rather than another salad. Fresh or frozen beans are much quicker to cook than dried beans but feel free to use a canned variety instead. This dish is cooked in one pan but stew always suggests hours of cooking so I suppose ‘stew’ is a bit of a misnomer but for want of a better description it has to do. I always advocate keeping tins of plum tomatoes in the cupboard as a standby, either whole or chopped, and along with onion, garlic and fresh herbs you’re pretty much there.

 

I have a really good clump of oregano in my herb patch and its vibrant green scented leaves shouts ‘Italy’ and any recipe with fresh oregano in it takes me back to those small bistros dotted along any Italian town’s back streets where you can smell the deep herby sauces before you reach the door. Again I would urge you to plant up a pot or two with Mediterranean herbs if you haven’t got a garden or if you have no space left in the garden.

 

Any simple Italian inspired dish like this one can be served with crusty bread, rice or polenta but as I only had white maize-meal rather than yellow polenta that’s what I used for the accompaniment.

 

Ingredients: Serves 4

Frozen borlotti beans  (about a handful per person)

1 medium onion-finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic-crushed (wild garlic is ideal

1 stick of celery-chopped

½ green pepper

Green leafy vegetable-I used finely chopped rocket and kale leaves but spinach would work.

A good handful of fresh oregano (basil would work here)

1 tin chopped plum tomatoes

Vegetable stock cube

Salt & pepper

Olive oil

 

Method:

Gently sweat the onion, celery, green pepper and garlic in a little oil. When the onions are translucent add the borlotti beans, tinned tomatoes and stock cube topping the liquid levels up with a little water. The vegetables need space to cook in the liquid but don’t add to much water otherwise the finished dish will be more soup than stew. The beans will need around 20 minutes if frozen or fresh (if you use tinned beans then you just need them to heat through) so simmer gently for around 10 minutes then add the shredded greens and chopped oregano. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes, the sauce should have thickened by then. Check the fresh/frozen beans are cooked, they should yield but not fall apart.

Season to taste and serve with your chosen accompaniment. If using white maize-meal follow this link for the simple dish I made to go with an African Stew previously. Scroll down the linked page for recipe.

 

I hope you have a go at both growing your own beans and cooking this dish but as always you can swap ingredients to suit yourself. Let me know how you get on.

 

Fresh borlotti beansBorlotti stew

 

 

 

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