Monthly Archives: August 2015

borlotti and tomatoes

I had this notion to make a tomato and mascarpone risotto. We had one last year amidst our bounty of delicious tomatoes and it’s an enjoyable memory. Memory didn’t help much though when it came to finding the recipe. I searched in my books then resorted to google – tomato, risotto, mascarpone – google came up with all sorts but not the recipe I remembered, then I thought River Cafe, tomato, risotto etc and hey presto there it was – Rosemary Risotto. Funny that. My predominate memory was tomato.


I thought it would be delicious to eat this risotto with borlotti beans heaped on top.

We’ve an interesting harvest of beans in the garden, I’m particularly fond of the cannelini and borlotti beans which we grow in our tunnel. They are such a treat, the lovely velvet texture of these fresh beans are definitely a notch above dried beans in consistency and flavour.

I have discovered a new way to cook them this year. First I heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, then gently cook a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and then add the beans. Give them a good bathe in the olive oil then add stock and cook for about twenty minutes.As soon as they are tender drain the beans, reserve the liquid to use as stock, and tip the beans back into the pot. Dress with a little olive oil, salt and black pepper.

It’s my tastiest method yet. The beans can be used in anything- soups, salads, under grilled prawns,the possibilities are endless.
They were delicious on the tomato risotto with a drizzle of extra reserve balsamic snaking over the top.


Gigantes Plaki – Holiday Memories

We’ve an interesting harvest of beans in the garden this summer.
I went a bit bean crazy in the spring – so confident was I that we were going to have another heatwave.
I had a collection of seed gathered from far and wide. Yin Yang beans, Cannnelini beans, Borlotti beans, French beans, Italian beans, Runner beans and Chickpeas. The results have been quite mixed but apart from the yin yang beans which have gone awol and the Italian beans which really couldn’t handle the climate everything else is having a go.
Any bean that has grown inside has flourished but the outside ones are having a rough ride. The French beans are so cold that instead of growing straight they are growing curly and the outside borlotti and cannelini are looking weatherworn and sad. Luckily the runner beans are super acclimatised to the Irish climate and we had some of all the above growing in the tunnel.
I’m excited about the chickpeas as little pods are finally appearing and the cannelini beans and borlotti beans, which are such a treat, are all harvested and almost eaten.


So you could imagine we’ve been eating a lot of bean dinners.
Beans and pasta, Bombay beans, beans and courgettes, beans and tomato, beans in salads, and Gigantes Plaki.
I was wondering what to cook next when I remembered this dish. We had eaten it when we were in Syros, Greece. It was made with giant butterbeans and came bubbling in a terracotta casserole to the table with just melted feta on top. Delicious eaten in the sunshine and mopped up with a piece of bread and equally as delicious served with baby spuds at home.

I made ours with our home grown cannelini beans but butterbeans would be more authentic – whatever you fancy and if you don’t have good ripe fresh tomatoes, use a can. Use ewes milk feta if you have a choice, it is better in consistency and flavour.


Greek Beans – Gigantes Plaki

600g cooked beans – butterbean or cannelini (2 cans)
approx 75mls olive oil
1 onion
2 stems celery
4 cloves garlic
4 big fatty tomatoes or 2 cans
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
150g feta cheese
chopped parsley

Peel the onion and chop finely. Heat a pan, add enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom and the chopped onion.
Cut the celery sticks into three or four lengthways then chop finely and stir into the onions. Season with a little salt,, and sweat on a medium-low heat for five minutes. Don’t let them brown.
Peel and chop the garlic and stir in, cook for two minutes then add the tomatoes, oregano and cinnamon. Bring to the boil then turn to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Give it the odd stir and keep the pot gently bubbling.
Pre heat the oven 190c
Drain the beans if you have cooked them yourself, or rinse and drain if you are using canned beans.
Tip the beans into a shallow oven-proof dish.
Taste the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper then pour over the beans. Give the dish a shake so that the sauce slips between the beans then bake for 40 mins. The sauce should be beginning to bubble around the edge. Take the dish out of the oven, crumble the feta into rough chunks over the top and bake for a further ten minutes.
Serve with chopped parsley scattered on top.

Bombay Beans

A couple of left over spuds and a bucket of beans was the starting point for last nights dinner.
The beans in the garden are finally ripening. We’ve borlotti beans, runner beans, French beans and cannelini beans, all ready for eating right now so we’re eating beans with everything.
Yesterdays dinner was Indian style French beans with tomatoes also from the garden.
These just picked veggies with their big bold flavours stood well with the spices, complimenting each other rather than being taken over.

Here’s the recipe


Indian Style Green Beans

2 onions
50g ghee
4 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped
a thumb sized piece of ginger- peeled and chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp mustard seeds
1dsp turmeric
1dsp ground coriander
3 cooked spuds – waxy and not too big and chopped into chunks
3 ripe fatty tomatoes – diced
300g green beans – topped and tailed
chopped coriander

Peel and slice the onions. Heat a medium sized pot and melt the ghee. Stir in the onions, cook them for about 5 minutes then stir in the cumin and mustard seeds, cook 5 minutes more before stirring in the garlic and ginger and cooking for a couple more minutes. Season with a little salt and add the coriander and turmeric, stir to mix with the onions and cook for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, when everything in the pot is bubbling reduce the heat. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down then simmer gently for about fifteen minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a little salt and the beans. Cook the beans for four minutes then drain and add to the sauce.Leave to cook for a couple of minutes then take off the heat, stir in the chopped coriander and serve.
We ate this with brown basmati rice and a little yoghurt on the side.