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Spud And The Beanstalk

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).

On the edge of the french bean tangle

On the edge of the french bean tangle

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.

French bean, see

French bean, see

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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.

French beans with sesame seeds

You’ll need:
  • 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
The Steps:
  • 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.
The Variations:
  • You could make this altogether more Asian by replacing the salt with some soy sauce and the olive oil with toasted sesame oil.
The Results:
  • Serves around 4-5 as a side dish


  1. jenn

    I love green beans. Nothing beats fresh beans from the garden.

  2. Tangled Noodle

    Your theory makes sense: Jack no longer had the cow but if it left some gifts behind, he had to do something with ’em! 8-D

    These are lovely green beans and judging by the beautiful photos of your summer bounty, I think the title is appropriate – your garden must be enchanted (and enchanting!)

  3. OysterCulture

    Ah this is taking me back to my childhood when as kids we use to roam my mothers bean plants and pick off each luscious bean as it became rip and popped it and consumed it guiltily on sight. I love fresh green beans but have to say the extra effort to make your version seems entirely worth it.

  4. The Duo Dishes

    How fresh and gorgeous does that look? You’re so lucky to have a garden of fresh veggies.

  5. Phyllis (me HUNGRY!)

    This post brings back such fond memories of both Jack and the beanstalk and the omelettes my mother would make with the fresh green beans from our garden. And I just saw your fairytale french beans on the front page of Serious Eats! :)

  6. Jenni

    DS-1, Giant-0.

    A big win for your green beans!

  7. The Diva on a Diet

    My but you are a most clever Spud! Loved everything about this post … every word, every picture, and the recipe. Brilliant!

  8. mgh

    Did I tell you how both my runner beans and my dwarf french beans got demolished by slugs this year? I still feel sad when I think of what might have been…

  9. Daily Spud

    jenn: love ’em and especially love the fact that less than 10 minutes after picking them, you can have them cooked and ready to eat

    Tangled Noodle: brilliant, I knew I was onto something with that theory; all I can say is that the cow has a lot to answer for!

    OysterCulture: all the effort is indeed worth it, I’d even fell a few giants if I had to :)

    Duo Dishes: yes, lucky indeed – wish I could pick fresh stuff like this all year round

    Phyllis: yay for serious eats :) (and for your Mom’s omelettes with grean beans!)

    Jenni: it was a bit Daily Spud vs. Goliath alright, but the little guy (well, gal) has got to win sometime :)

    Diva: aw, gee, thank you, thank you and thank you!

    mgh: oh no! skewering is too good for those slugs, I tell ya

  10. gaga

    What a great and simple way to highlight green beans. You’ve inspired me to plant them next year!

  11. SippitySup

    Only spud could talk about manure and recipes in the same post, and somehow make it seem delicious!

  12. Sophie

    I love all beens & especially green & yellow beens!! I just love your last picture & this food is what I like ,….


  13. Lori

    I love your stories and your logic. I do have to agree with Sippity Sup too. I wasn’t affected at all by the mention of manure. Ha, ha! The green beans look great!

  14. Daily Spud

    gaga: oh do if you can – I definitely want to grow them again myself

    SippitySup: it’s a talent I guess!

    Sophie: thanks – I’m a big bean fan so it’s great to be able to grow them for myself

    Lori: I will have to remember to mention beans again the next time I want to talk about manure, lol

  15. aoife mc

    “bean and gone” tsk tsk. Just noticed that one now as I’m having a closer perusal looking for lovely things to do with these beautiful French beans!

  16. aoife mc

    Oh, and thanks a mill again! We had the courgette and onion in our dinner tonight, they were lovely.

  17. Daily Spud

    Hey, Aoife, glad you’re enjoying the veg so far. As for the “bean and gone”, oh I thought about that one. Perhaps, like Jack, I am guilty of planting a bean in a place where none should be!

  18. Chef E

    My website and marketing design team made me realize that Green was more than just a pretty face…okay, what I just said was that I never liked green until four years ago, when I asked Darrick why he was using so much green in my new wine site, and he said it was not only the top choice for getting attention…it was a healthy choice…call me crazy but magically I began to eat more dark green vegetables…

    I would eat that beautiful bean if I had been around!

  19. Daily Spud

    Chef E: green is a winner all the way, though, being Irish, I would say that, now, wouldn’t I? :)

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