Calling left-overs “Tapas” is a smart way of up-cycling surplus ingredients that are too good to put on the compost heap. They make great quick weekend lunches or pre-pub suppers.
And when a vegetable keeps on cropping faster than you can eat it, sometimes it’s better to cook it fresh for later rather than let it languish and perish.
With my runner beans looking like they’re entering the second half of a marathon, I’m picking far more than we can possibly eat. So I’ve taken note of a hot tip that MNM brought back from his Ashburton Cookery School week, and started cooking my vegetables mis en place style. This means getting everything to a state of in-limbo perfection, ready to quickly reheat before serving up en masse. It’s also a good point at which to store in the fridge for a few days or freeze for later use.
(NB: I used to steam my beans, thinking it healthier, but I am finding they are tastier and hold their colour better cooked by this method, which also seals the flavour and goodness into the vegetables.)
4-minute cooked beans, plunged into iced water to stop them overcooking in their own heat and to seal in the colour and flavour.
Runner Bean and Tomato Salad
Here’s how I get runner beans cooked to a tee, for eating now or serving up (cold or hot) another time:
* pick your runner beans when they are young and tender (they should snap in half easily) and not much longer than a Bic Biro, then you won’t need to de-string them.
* I snap off the knobbly stalk end, but there’s no need to remove the pointy end.
* put a large pan of water on to boil, with enough water to submerge your runner beans into. If the pan is not big enough to take the beans whole, snap them in half first.
* when the water is boiling rapidly add a pinch of salt, then plunge all the beans into the pan so that they are covered. Pop the lid on and continue to boil rapidly for 4 minutes.
* while they’re boiling, fill a large bowl with cold water and as many ice cubes as your G&T habit allows.
* as soon at the 4 minutes are up, drain the beans immediately in a colander, and then plunge them into the bowl of cold water. If you don’t have ice, immediately empty the warmed water and refill it with more cold water and repeat until the beans and water are cold.
* remove and pat them dry with some kitchen roll or a clean tea towel.
* You can them leave them whole, or slice them into pieces ready for later. Runner beans prepared like this can be stored in an airtight container the fridge for a couple of days, and are really fresh and delicious cold in a salad or can be reheated by popping into boiling water for a minute.
* Or you could freeze them for another time: spread on a tray (for a quick, even freeze) and then transfer them to a plastic bag once hard. When it comes to defrosting, reheat them from frozen in boiling water for a couple of minutes until steamy hot, stir in a knob of butter et voila! summer-fresh beans.
To make the salad I chopped up some tomatoes and the cold runner beans, mixed in a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of Sumac. A surprisingly tasty combination!
How many times have you over estimated the number of potatoes your family can eat? Especially if they are cut in half… they just seem to double in volume! If you grow your own delicious potatoes it seems such a waste to throw them away. As above, any unused ones can be plunged into cold water to cool and saved for use over the next day or two. If it’s the weekend, you could have them pan-fried for brunch with a poached egg. Yum.
I like to fry mine up as a ‘tapas’ dish when I’ve an evening on my own in front of the telly. Adding some left over roast chicken, lardons and some freshly picked, chopped herbs and a squeeze of lime to the pan for the last 5 minutes.
Oh, and not forgetting that G&T. Now where’s the remote?
another quick-lunch dish: Pre-cooked beans, grilled on toast with some tangy Wooton Dairy ewes cheese.