Hand drawn image of French beans

French beans

Phaseolus vulgaris

Versatile French beans can be fast-food or the basis of a leisurely feast. Boil briefly, then toss still-crunchy beans with a little sweated garlic and butter for a simple side. Slow-cook to richness with tomatoes, onions and olives. Or try a classic salad Niçoise. Bliss.

Image of French beans being produced

In the kitchen

Storage

Store in the bottom of your fridge, in the bag we deliver them in. They should keep for a week. When fresh, they’ll snap cleanly in half.

Prep & Cooking tips

French beans 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. You can keep them whole for many recipes. If you need to slice them, they look prettier if you do it at an angle.

You can use them raw as a crudité or finely sliced in a salad. To cook quickly, drop them whole into plenty of boiling water for 4-6 mins, depending on how much of a bite and a squeak you like. Drain and plunge into cold water to keep them firm and vibrantly coloured. Finely sliced, they wouldn’t be out of place in a stir-fry or sautéed on their own with a little butter and garlic. They’ll survive a long slow braise in a tomato sauce; less verdant but meltingly tender.

Easy ideas

1. Raw

In the main beans are better cooked, if only briefly. However, raw French 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 ragu

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 a green bean glut in this way. What you lose in colour and bite you make up for with 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

Goes well with

Alliums (Garlic, Onion, Shallot)
Acid (Lemon, Vinegar)
Asian flavourings (Chilli, Ginger, Sesame, Soy)
Cured pork
Herbs
Honey or sugar
Nuts Salty things (Anchovies, Capers, Feta, Olives, Parmesan)
Tomato
Tuna

French beans recipes

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In the field

  • Meet the grower: Antony & Mary Coker, Rattery, Devon

    The Cokers run Home Park Farm where Antony and Mary farm organic vegetables and sheep in a traditional mixed system.

    Read more

Seasonality

The first flush of French beans come from our farm in the Vendée in June, followed by home grown beans in August and September. They like to grow in hot and humid climates so can be a challenge to grow in the UK.
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