Make this dish in the late summer or early autumn, when runner beans, courgettes and celery are all in season together. Ensure that the dried beans are simmered for the full time given in the recipe. Substitute a 397 g (14 oz) can kidney beans to speed things up, if you prefer.
100 g (4 oz) dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight
25 g (1 oz) butter
1 medium onion, skinned and roughly chopped
100 g (4 oz) celery, sliced
100 g (4 oz) carrots, sliced
15 ml (1 tbsp) plain flour
300 ml (1/2 pint) vegetable stock
salt and pepper
100 g (4 oz) runner beans, topped and tailed
100 g (4 oz) courgettes, sliced
25 g (1 oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
75 g (3 oz) Cheddar cheese, grated
1. Drain the kidney beans and rinse well under running cold water. Put in a large saucepan, cover with plenty of fresh cold water and slowly bring to the boil.
2. Skim off the surface with a slotted spoon, then boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Half cover the pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until tender.
3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and gently fry for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the celery and carrots, cover and gently cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the flour and gently cook, stirring, for 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually blend in the stock. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
5. Add the runner beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes, then add the courgettes. Cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still with a bite to them.
6. Drain the kidney beans, add to the vegetables and heat through for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then turn into a deep flameproof dish.
7. Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together. Sprinkle on top of the bean mixture, then brown under a hot grill until crisp and crusty. Serve hot, accompanied with wholemeal bread and a green salad.
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