Preparing and Cooking French and Haricot Beans

French beans

These are at their best when young and before the seeds begin to show through the pods. They are the perfect summer vegetable with roast meats, poultry and many fish dishes, and are equally delicious hot or cold.

French beans are in most cases interchangeable with runner beans, which mature later. They are excellent in salads and are also used in pickles.



Haricot beans

The pods are not usually harvested until the beans have dried in the early autumn, but they can also be picked while they are green and immature.

Cook both fresh and naturally dried haricot beans in a well-flavoured stock for about 25-40 minutes, until they are tender. Drain, and serve they a pat of butter and chopped parsley.

Alternatively, leave them to cool, then dress them with oil-vinaigrette and serve as a salad.

The cooked beans may also be made into a puree, and enriched with butter and cream.

Dried haricot beans need soaking before cooking, but unlike shop-bought beans of indeterminate age they do not have to steep for several hours.

Put the beans in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then keep to a gentle simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Remove the pan lion: the heat, cover with a lid and leave to steep for 1 hour before draining and cooking.





1 lb (500g) French beans

4 garlic cloves

1 egg yolk

Salt and pepper

5 fl oz (150 ml) olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

COOKINGTIME: 7 minutes

In this dish, beans are served with the classic sauce known as aioli, which is really a garlic-flavoured mayonnaise that can also be used with other cooked vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, or with cold salads.

Begin by preparing the sauce. Peel the garlic cloves and pound to a paste in a mortar, add the egg yolk and a pinch of salt and beat thoroughly until creamy. Beat in the oil, drop by drop as when making mayonnaise, beating vigorously until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Top, tail and wash the beans. Put them in a pan of boiling, lightly salted water and cook for about 7 minutes, or until just tender. Drain thoroughly.

Serving Arrange the hot beans in a dish, and either spoon the aioli sauce over them or serve this separately. Serve the beans with any kind of roast meat, hot or cold.




1 lb. (500g ) French beans

2 tablespoons oil

1 garlic clove


3 oz (75g) Cheddar or Cheshire cheese


2 tomatoes

COOKING TIME: 30 minutes

OVEN TEMPERATURE: 190°C (375°F) — gas mark 5

Wash, top and tail the beans. Put in a pan of boiling, lightly salted water and cook for 5-7 minutes. Drain, then refresh in cold water.

Brush an ovenproof dish with a little oil, cut the garlic in half and rub over the dish. Lay the well-drained beans in the dish. Brush them liberally with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Slice the cheese thinly and lay over the beans, sprinkle with paprika and top with tomato slices. Cook near the top of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Serving Serve on its own with hot garlic bread, or as a light supper dish with boiled cold ham or gammon.

Variation Young courgettes, cut in half lengthways, may be used instead of French beans.




1 lb . (500g) French beans

3-4 tablespoons oil

1 finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove

1 chopped carrot

2 tablespoons brown stock

1 dessertspoon each of finely chopped parsley, tarragon or chives, chervil and spring onions

1 teaspoon of chopped marjoram

Salt and sugar

COOKING TIME: 20 minutes

Wash, top and tail the beans, and cut in half. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and cook the onion, crushed garlic and carrot for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is of finely Add the beans, stock and all the finely chopped herbs; mix thoroughly, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally, and add a little more stock if the mixture begins to dry out. Season to taste with salt and sugar.

Serving This makes a light dish on its own, served with small, new, buttered potatoes sprinkled with parsley or chives.

Variation For a more substantial version, add 1/2 lb. (250g) of cooked, diced ham to the beans for the last 5 minutes of cooking.




½ lb. (250g) green haricot beans

1 onion

1 carrot

1 bouquet garni

Salt and pepper

1-2 tinned pimentos

2 oz (50g) black or green olives

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, chervil or chives

1 garlic clove

COOKINGTIME: 1 – 1-¼ hours


Peel and roughly chop the onion and carrot. Put them in a pan with 2 pints (1L) of cold water, the bouquet garni and a good seasoning of salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer this stock for 25 minutes before adding the haricot beans. Continue simmering for 25-30 minutes.

Drain, and leave to cool.

Put the drained beans in a serving bowl and mix with the drained, diced pimento and the olives. Make a dressing from the olive oil and vinegar, seasoning well with salt and pepper and adding the finely chopped herbs and the crushed garlic.

Turn the beans in the dressing, then chill for 1 hour.

Serving This salad may be served with any type of meat, or with wholemeal bread it makes an unusual hors-d’oeuvre.




1 lb. (500g) soaked, dried haricot beans

2 onions

4 cloves

2 carrots

2-3 sticks of celery

½ lb. (250g) belly pork or green bacon

2-3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ lb. (250g) tomatoes

1 tablespoon golden syrup

Salt and pepper

COOKING TIME 4 — 4-1/4 hours

OVEN TEMPERATURE: 150°C (300°F) — gas mark 2

Put the soaked, drained beans in a large pan. Add one peeled onion stuck with the cloves, the peeled and roughly chopped carrots and celery, and enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer over gentle heat for about 30 minutes, or until the skins burst. Drain the beans and set the cooking liquid aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the remaining chopped onion for about 5 minutes, or until golden. Add the diced pork or bacon and fry until browned and sealed.

Stir in the tomato paste, the skinned and roughly chopped tomatoes, the syrup and about 1/2 pint (300 ml) of the strained cooking liquid. Season to taste.

Arrange the beans in an ovenproof dish, pour over them the contents of the pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bake in the oven for 3 hours, topping up With the bean liquid as necessary.

Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking, when the sauce should have reduced to a thick consistency.

Serving This makes a hearty winter casserole served straight from the dish, with triangles of toast.




1 lb (500g) dried haricot beans

1 pint (600 ml) ham or chicken stock

1 bouquet garni

4 rashers streaky bacon

1 oz (25g) butter

Salt and cayenne pepper

Garnish: chopped parsley, basil or marjoram

COOKING TIME: 30 minutes

After soaking the beans, drain them and put in a pan with enough cold stock to cover. Add the bouquet garni, but no salt, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the skins burst. Drain thoroughly and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cut the rashers crossways into strips and fry in the butter until crisp.

Serving Spoon the beans into a dish, sprinkle with salt and cayenne and pour the bacon and fat over them. Toss the beans well and garnish with finely chopped herbs.

07. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Gardening, Vegetable Growing | Tags: , | Comments Off on Preparing and Cooking French and Haricot Beans


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