The Secret Cook – The Benefits of Beans

The Secret Cook – the benefits of beans

I love green beans, tasting of the summer season and a lovely versatile vegetable providing green on the plate, and even appealing to children to eat! It seems very few people would turn down beans as a side dish, which is great when feeding several people with varied taste preferences. Another property I really love about beans is that to make them keep growing you keep picking them, so that they keep producing more!

Nutritionally beans provide a satisfying range of vitamins, notably vitamins C and K, and are a good source of fibre which benefits digestive health. Carotenoids such as beta carotene are found in French beans, as well as flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Vitamin K is good for bone health, supporting healthy bones.

Currently in season, this is the time to make the most of French beans, while they are local and seasonal.

If I’m cooking these beans in the most basic way then I steam them. I have an expandable pan steamer that fits into small or large pans as it opens out for larger pans. Steaming vegetables helps to maintain vitamins in them, and eliminates excessive water retention. Otherwise a lovely way to cook accompanying beans is in this dish, reminiscent of Greece.

French beans with tomato and garlic sauce
Olive oil 2-3 tablespoons
2 large or 5 cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
Paprika about 1 teaspoon (to taste) – for this recipe I prefer non-smoked paprika but if you like the smoky taste then by all means use this
Approx 250g French or other green beans, topped and tailed for French beans and sliced and de-stringed for e.g. runner beans

Crush and finely slice the garlic
Heat the olive oil (not too hot) in a small pan with a tight fitting lid. Gently cook the garlic in the warmed oil for a few seconds until aromatic, but don’t overlook as it becomes burnt and unpleasant.
Add the roughly chopped tomatoes to the garlic , stir and simmer until collapsed. Then add the paprika and cook for a few minutes.
Add the beans and season with a little salt and pepper, taste to suit. Paprika can be quite hot so check before you add the pepper.
Stir it all well together then put the lid on the pan, turn the cooker down low and leave to cook, occasionally giving it a stir.
The beans will take approximately 10-15 mins to cook. They can be cooked in advance then re-heated.

Enjoy the taste of summer sunshine in the green beans, these are lovely with Indian dishes, such as dahl, rice and other curries, or with other vegetarian or meat and fish dishes. The tomato and garlic juice is tasty and summery too.

– The Secret Cook