In the kitchen
Flat beans are best stored in the bottom of your fridge, where they should keep for a week before losing their fresh 'snap'.
Prep & Cooking tips
Flat beans may need topping, but not usually tailing. You can do this simply by snapping the tops off with your fingers, or by lining them up in a neat row and using a knife. They are a little too long and ungainly to serve whole, so you’ll inevitably slice them before using. They look prettier sliced at a sharp angle, but the choice is yours.
They are tender enough to eat raw and will lend a fresh crunch to a salad or slaw. You can add them straight to a wok or frying pan and sauté them swiftly. They’ll cook in boiling water in a matter of minutes, depending on how thickly or thinly they have been cut and how much of a bite and a squeak you like. They can be slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce; what they lose in colour and vibrancy, they make up for with melting tenderness.
In the main beans are better cooked, if only briefly. However, raw beans can add crunch to a salad. Whole ones can join a crudité selection for dunking into aioli, hollandaise or bagna cauda.
2. Dressed up
They work well lightly steamed or boiled and thrown through a simple dressing. A little butter, black pepper and lemon is a common starting point, made all the more compelling if you lightly brown the butter first. Enrobed in a vinaigrette, made heady with plenty of mustard, capers and chopped green herbs, they’d make a splendid salad with some boiled potatoes, crispy bacon and chopped egg in tow. They’ll happily shoulder a simple Japanese dressing of miso thinned with a little soy, rice wine and sesame seeds, or maybe a bolder Thai affair awash with lime, fish sauce, chilli and ginger.
3. Green bean ragú
Green beans don’t always have to be bright and squeaky; they are more than happy to be given a little extra time and heat. There are plenty of recipes from the Mediterranean that deal with a green bean glut in this way, giving a melt-in the-mouth tenderness. Gently cook them in a rich tomato sauce for the best part of an hour, add a dash of water or stock if they look like drying out. Try this recipe for ragú of green beans with tomatoes, olives and farinata.
4. On the BBQ
Make sure your BBQ or griddle is at a medium/high heat – no flames or fireworks, just steady glowing embers. Rub the beans lightly with oil and throw them straight onto the bars. Cook for 2-3 mins, until marked and starting to blister. Flip them over and cook for a further 2-3 mins. Transfer to a bowl and toss with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Serve in an unruly pile with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing.
Goes well with
Alliums (garlic, onion, shallot) Acid (lemon, vinegar) Asian flavourings (chilli, ginger, sesame, soy) Cured pork Herbs Honey or sugar Nuts Salty flavours (anchovies, capers, feta, olives, parmesan) Tomato Tuna
Flat beans recipes
Summer bean and herb pasta
Serves: 4 Total time: 25 min
cauliflower, butter beans and kale
Serves: 2 Total time: 25 min
Samphire, broad bean and cherry tomato salad
Serves: 4 Total time: 1h 10 min
Beef, asparagus and green bean stir fry
Serves: 2 Total time: 30 min
Crushed broad bean bruschetta
Serves: 4 Total time: 20 min
Mustard crusted roast beef with white bean mash and walnut dressed beans
Serves: 2 Total time: 45 min