Fresh borlotti beans are quite a revelation. They cook up plump and velvety , a mile nicer than dried and reconstituted beans which are starchy in comparison.
I started growing borlotti beans a few years back and it is now becoming an addiction. Borlotti beans don’t do very well outside in the Irish climate but they thrive inside the tunnel. It’s quite a luxury as inside growing space is premium.
Last years crop gave us about four yummy dinners and this years seems set to do the same.
I woke up this morning dreaming of borlotti beans with fatty prawns, a divine combination which we have already eaten once this year. I set off to Rosscarbery in search of the prawns but was disappointed. No fatty prawns available untii Friday.
I wandered home,unwilling to spend any more of the day on the prawn mission. It can wait until the next picking. It’s worth waiting for as if the prawns aren’t hopping they aren’t going to do the job.
The sun came out and when I got home I wandered around the garden picking veg. I made a kind of minestrone for dinner by slowly cooking the vegetables in olive oil then adding white wine and stock to make a summer stew. The borlotti beans were cooked separately, dressed with a little olive oil and then piled on top with some shredded basil.
here’s the recipe, which you may have to use dried or canned beans for if you can’t find fresh borlotti
About 250g podded borlotti beans
1 small onion
a sprig of fresh sage
2 cloves garlic
1 large tomato , chopped
Put all of the above in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and cook for about thirty minutes or until the beans are just tender. remove the lid and raise the heat to high. Cook until the liquid has reduced by about half then season with salt and pepper. Stir in a good glug of tasty olive oil and put aside.
For the minestrone
75mls-100mls olive oil
1-2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 stems celery, cut lengthwise then diced
2-3 bulbs fennel,cut into quarters lengthwise
Some parmesan rind (optional)
a few carrots, peeld and diced into large chunks
3-4 waxy potaotes, peeld and chopped into chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 fatty tomatoes, diced
2 small courgettes, cut into quarters lengthwise then chopped into a large dice
a glass of white wine
about 700mls vegetable stock or water
Heat a large pan and add a good glug of olive oil. Enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan.
Peel and chop the onion and add to the pan, Chop the celery and stir in, then season with a little salt.If you have some Parmesan rind add it now. Keep cooking on a medium high heat. You should be able to hear the vegetables sizzling away. Slowly add the other vegeables beginning with the fennel, then carrots, potatoes, garlic and chopped tomatoes but don’t let the temperature drop too low. Everything should be gently bubbling away.This will take about thirty minutes. Season with salt and black pepper Add the white wine, let it bubble up then and then add the stock. Cook for about ten minutes. Heat a little oil in a hot pan and add the courgettes, give them a good shake then season them with salt and black pepper and toss everything together again. Keep stirring/tossing on a high heat for a few minutes then tip them into the pot. Cook for a few more minutes then take off the heat and stir in the basil
Serve the stew in a bowl with the borlotti beans piled in the middle.