I'm a traditionalist and firmly believe that sometimes the simplest tools and techniques can bring the most impressive results in the kitchen. I was reminded of this in August when I stood staring at my pole bean teepee in the garden.
Back in May, I planted a motley selection of pole beans, the majority of which were scarlet runners. I don't normally grow scarlet runners but hefty pots of starts were being sold for a dollar at a local plant sale so I bought a few. The plants did quite well over the summer and when I returned home to Seattle after traveling on the East Coast I realized that my beans had grown a bit larger than I normally like. Scarlet runner beans tend to be tough so you really have to pounce and harvest before they grow too large.
At first I thought of just sacrificing the harvest and sending the beans to the worm bin. I decided to rethink that option and was soon reminded of some gorgeous Frenched beans that I had seen in Paris a few weeks earlier. Hmmm. I decided to harvest the beans, grab a VERY sharp chef's knife and get to work. I stripped the tough string running down the center of the pod and then lined up a bunch of beans. Using my sharp knife, I cut the beans very thinly on a 25 to 30 degree angle. Admittedly, this was a bit tedious because I had a lot of beans but it went quickly and resulted in thin and tender long strips of scarlet runners.
When I posted a photo of the beans on my Facebook page, my friends mentioned that Frenched beans seem to taste better. Indeed, I think they do. Cooked in lightly salted water and dressed with a little garlic, salt and butter right before serving, they were super!
I'm glad I didn't toss those beans to the worms and am happy to report that sometimes the simplest solutions are the most rewarding!|