The story of Jack and the Beanstalk goes something like this:
Jack swaps a cow for some magic beans. Jack plants beans. Enormous beanstalk develops that stretches all the way to the clouds. Jack climbs the beanstalk (several times, in fact) and does a spot of breaking-and-entering at the home of a local giant (identifiable as such by both general size and the fact that he says fee-fi-fo-fum a lot). Jack gets himself into much trouble as a result. In the end, the beanstalk gets it.
Now, my theory is that Jack wasn’t so much in possession of magic beans but, rather, had applied too much manure to his vegetable patch. I base this on the fact that my garden is now home to several rather enthusiastic beanstalks which, I suspect, would extend all the way to the clouds if only I could find bamboo poles tall enough to support them. Instead, my french bean plants have chosen to wrap themselves around each other, weaving quite a tangled web in the process (which is probably just as well, because I would rather they didn’t head skyward and become a point of entry for visiting giants).
Fortunately, while the plants have become increasingly entwined with each other, I’m happy to report that they haven’t lost sight of their raison d’être (them being french ‘n’ all) and have also begun to do what they do best at this time of year, producing edible leguminous wares (yeah, beans in other words). Even if the tangle of plants means that harvesting requires a bit of breaking-and-entering, the spoils are well worth it. Just don’t tell the giant I’ve bean and gone.
Fairytale French Beans with Sesame Seeds & Garlic
Once upon a time, I came across this particular way with french beans in Evelyn Findlater’s Wholefood Cookery book. It has since become the first thing that I think of making if there are french beans to be had. I could also have been more literal about my title and called this recipe French Beans With Sesame Seeds, Olive Oil, Garlic and Lemon Juice. That would have told you the whole story right there.
- 450g french beans
- 1 tblsp sesame seeds
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Wash the beans and, cutting on the diagonal, slice the beans into pieces roughly 2cm long.
- Steam the beans or boil in salted water for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook – you want the beans to be cooked through but to still retain a bit of crunch.
- Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a small pan over a medium heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently. This should take around 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon juice to the pan with the sesame seeds. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, then remove from the heat, season with salt and black pepper and toss with the cooked beans
- Serve as a side dish or warm salad.
- You could make this altogether more Asian by replacing the salt with some soy sauce and the olive oil with toasted sesame oil.
- Serves around 4-5 as a side dish