Green beans. Not exactly a staple of my youth. But over the past couple of years I’ve developed something of a muted appreciation of beans and peas of all varieties. Broad beans, green beans and sugar snaps in particular. This Garden Bean Salad brings them all together into one fresh and crunchy side dish.
Beans and peas are among the most versatile garden ingredients. However you feel like cooking – frying, boiling, steaming, stewing and even mashing – these joyous legumes can do it all. And do it well.
They’re exceptionally frugal too, especially as the year wears on. Fresh beans tend to come in at around £4 per kilo. That’s a lot of beans. Broad beans are perhaps the most expensive; a result of their thick, fibrous pods. But if you buy them frozen – almost as good – their price drops to only £1.50 per kilo. And they’re great to bung into any old dish for a little added flavour.
But for all the versatility of beans, there’s one surefire way of ruining them. Overcooking. Green beans and sugar snap peas in particular possess an enticing snap, a crunch that it’s best to maintain. It’s what gives this salad its satisfying texture. Food without interest is hardly worth eating.
Two to three minutes in a pan of simmering water is sufficient to soften the pulses, ready for eating. Make sure to have a bowl of iced water on hand to stop the cooking process dead in its tracks. Ignore this step and the beans will essentially steam cook one another as they slowly cool.
There are so many things you can achieve with beautiful legumes like these, from baked falafel and glorious Indian dishes, to all manner of colourful salads. Make the most of them as they become available as we move through the year.
Garden Bean Salad
- 150g green beans, trimmed
- 150g sugar snap peas
- 100g broad beans, fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped
- juice and zest of ½ a lemon
- a pinch of salt
- a handful of rocket, washed
- Make sure your green beans are trimmed before popping them, along with the sugar snap peas and broad beans into already simmering water for 2-3 minutes.
- Once cooked, transfer the beans and peas to a large bowl of iced water. While they’re cooling, prepare your other ingredients.
- Once the beans and peas are cool, toss them through the herbs, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt.
- Serve the salad in a large serving bowl or similar and dress with a handful of fresh, peppery rocket.
Cost: A simple salad, composed mainly of some of the most unabashedly frugal ingredients available, this dish should set you back no more than £2.10. It’s perfect served as a side for four, or main dish for two.