Thursday, 22 August 2013

Runner Bean and Potato Stew

This is the sort of thing I grew up eating back home in Croatia - superfrugal, superfresh, and super delicious - if you like that sort of thing, that is.

The daughter scrunched up her nose and said "That does not look very appetising!"  Well, yes, OK, a stew can look a bit brown and mushy, no matter what you put in it.  No judging of books by their covers around here though - or food by its looks.  In the event, she had seconds.  So did I.  Even OH - not a runner bean fan at best of times, and not really all that keen on meatless meals, either - said that, as runner bean dishes go, this will do the job.

So get out and pick your runner beans (I am assuming that you would probably not be bothering to read this if you were not a backyard gardener suffering a glut!).  As this is a stew, there are no hard-and-fast quantities to it - it's a case of "chuck in a bit of this, and a bit of that, turn up the heat and see what happens" cookery. 

You have your beans now, right ?  A good handful (and I have rather large hands) did for the three of us.   If you are growing your own potatoes, go and furtle for a bit - a couple of medium ones per person is about right.

Other things you will definitely need - an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, some good stock (water will do in a pinch, but a stock adds flavour, goodness, and frankly so much more), salt, pepper.

Things that will help a great deal - a carrot, a celery stick, some paprika, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, a couple of bay leaves.  You could add a slug of wine if you like - I don't if there's no meat in the stew.  You could add herbs, or some tomato puree, and end up with an altogether different dish.  Play around, be brave - as long as you have the basics, you can not go far wrong, not unless you go silly and start adding things you know you don't like. 

This is how I did last night - another time, I'll do it in a slightly different way, depending on the mood and availability of ingredients.  That is how I cook, and what I really like about cooking - organic, changeable, different every time.


Oil (a splash)
Onion (one large or two smaller, chopped)
Carrot (one, chopped into small cubes)
Celery (one stick, as above)
Runner beans (a large handful, sliced to one inch lengths)
Potatoes (two medium ones per person, cubed fairly small)
Garlic (two cloves, crushed)
Stock  (enough to cover the ingredients; dilute with water as necessary)
Paprika (two teaspoons)
Bay leaf (two)
Worcestershire sauce (a couple of splashes)
Salt and pepper (to taste)


Splash a bit of oil into a large saucepan.  Chop your onion, carrot and stick of celery, and sauté gently for a few minutes.  Add cubed potatoes, runner beans, crushed garlic, and the rest of the ingredients  up to and including the bay leaves.  Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 35-45 minutes.  About five minutes before turning the heat off, season with salt, pepper, and a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce. 

Incidentally, as my daughter was a rabid vegetarian until very recently, I would have normally made this with vegetable stock and minus the Lea & Perrin's, so if you are one, it's still going to be nice enough if you do the same.


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