At this time of year, the variety of locally grown fruit and vegetables increases massively as plants begin to mature and give up their precious cargo for our dinner plates.
We have an area at the end of our garden which we use as a vegetable plot. It is only a small area, but nonetheless big enough to grow a good selection of our favourite veg, from squashes and onions to sweet corn and tomatoes. One thing we plant every year without fail are French climbing green beans.
Because they are trained to grow up bean poles, they are really space-efficient and in a good year when the weather is kind, we get an abundance of these tender, green, skinny sticks. Some we eat gently steamed or boiled al dente as an accompaniment to meals and some we blanch and fast-freeze to save for the winter months. But our favourite bean dish is French green beans cooked in tomatoes, – a dish which comes from my childhood, cooked by my mother and her mother before her and which has its roots in Italy from where my grandmother originated.
It is a simple rustic dish, packed with flavours which remind me of summer.
Before we went gluten free, we ate it with crusty French bread. These days we have it with toast, or freshly baked cheese bread and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It is wonderful with garlic bread and can be eaten cold as a salad or antipasti.
It is absolutely delicious, very healthy and freezes perfectly if you have any leftovers to save for a quick meal or to eat later as a side dish.
Green Beans Cooked in Tomatoes
500g French green beans – washed, trimmed and cut in half
1 large onion – finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to season
Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
- Heat the butter and oil in a deep frying pan or sauté pan and gently fry the onions and garlic until soft and golden.
- Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, stirring well to combine.
- Add the beans and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir well and leave simmering gently, with the lid on the pan for about 45 minutes, until the beans are soft. Check occasionally and give a gentle stir.
- Serve hot or warm with a bread of your choice, sprinkled liberally with Parmesan cheese. Or eat cold as an antipasti.