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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jane Baxter

Jane Baxter’s budget recipes for Middle Eastern-style beans

Jane Baxter's french and runner bean fattoush.
Jane Baxter's french and runner bean fattoush. Photograph: Matthew Hague/The Guardian. Food styling: Oliver Rowe. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food styling assistant: Lucy Cottle.

The season for both fine and runner beans is soon coming to an end, so here are two quick and easy recipes using both. Beans in a spiced tomato sauce is common across the Mediterranean, and especially in the Middle East, where they appear in various meze combinations all around the region. The flatbread recipe that goes with them is a really useful one to have to hand, because it’s basically an instant bread without any proving, relying instead on baking powder and bicarbonate of soda as raising agents. Fattoush, meanwhile, is traditionally made with cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and toasted pitta, but why stop there? It’s a wonderful salad, lightly spiced and with a lovely crunch from the bread. Use any veg you fancy, though it’s a good idea to dress them all separately, especially cooked ones while they’re hot, so they soak up the dressing.

French and runner bean fattoush

Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 4 as a side

5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch ground cumin
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Salt and black pepper
200g french beans
, trimmed
200g runner beans, trimmed, destringed and cut into 3cm pieces
¼ cucumber, cut in half lengthways, deseeded and sliced
1 little gem lettuce, leaves sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 pittas, torn into rough pieces
1 pinch sumac

For the tahini-honey dressing
1 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp yoghurt
2 tsp honey

In a large bowl, whisk three tablespoons of the olive oil with the vinegar, cayenne, cumin and mint, then season to taste.

Blanch the french and runner beans in salted boiling water for eight to 10 minutes, until tender, then drain, tip into the dressing bowl, toss to coat and set aside to cool.

Once the beans are cooled, add the cucumber, lettuce, radishes and tomatoes to the bowl, and toss again.

In a nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and fry the pieces of pitta until crisp and lightly browned. Sprinkle with sumac.

Mix the tahini, yoghurt and honey, and add a tablespoon of water bit by bit, or just enough to loosen the mix to turn it into a thick sauce. Fold the pitta through the salad, drizzle the tahini dressing all over the top and serve.

Spiced french beans in tomato sauce with flatbreads

Jane Baxter’s spiced french beans in tomato sauce with flatbreads.
Jane Baxter’s spiced french beans in tomato sauce with flatbreads. Photograph: Matthew Hague/The Guardian. Food styling: Oliver Rowe. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food styling assistant: Lucy Cottle.

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4 as part of a meze spread

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 t
sp ground coriander
1 pinch red chilli flakes, to taste
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
300g french beans, trimmed
1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained (or 250g cooked cannellini beans)
2 tbsp chopped mint leaves, plus a little extra to serve
50g feta, crumbled

For the flatbreads
150g self-raising flour
150g yoghurt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp sesame seeds
A pinch of salt

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil, then saute the onion for five minutes, until soft and translucent, but not coloured. Stir in the garlic, spices and chilli, and cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes. Tip in the tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer, then leave to cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Stir the french beans into the sauce, until well coated, then cover and cook gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes more, until the beans are tender. Add the cannellini beans and chopped mint, cook for a few more minutes, until heated through, then season generously.

While the bean mix is cooking, make the flatbreads. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they come together into a soft dough. Divide into four, roll each piece into a ball, then roll out each ball into a thin circle. Heat a nonstick frying pan and cook each flatbread for a minute on each side, until lightly browned.

Serve the braised beans topped with the crumbled feta, extra chopped mint and the flatbreads on the side.

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