Puttanesca Runner Beans Recipe

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On the Side A sourcebook of inspiring side dishesRunner beans and tomatoes are a pretty classic summer match. Roasting cherry tomatoes and blanched beans at the same time is one way of pairing the two ingredients; dousing the beans with a garlic-infused tomato sauce is another. This takes the latter option a little further by embellishing the red sauce as if it were a puttanesca, with chilli, olives and capers.

You won’t need to serve many (if any) things alongside this and whatever it’s partnered with, whether that’s pan-fried monkfish, cod, some gammon or a bacon chop. If you think bulk is required, though, consider a grain, potato or root, but nothing too flash. If it suits your schedule, make the sauce in advance and reheat when you need it; cook the beans at the last moment.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 mild red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
  • 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 15 basil leaves, torn
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 kalamata olives
  • 2 teaspoons capers, roughly chopped
  • 400 g runner beans
  • g runner beans
How to Make It
  1. Start by making the sauce. Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook gently for 4–5 minutes without allowing it to colour, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes more before pouring in the chopped tomatoes. Half-fill the tomato tin with water, swill and add to the saucepan. Bring to the boil, add the sugar, dried herbs and balsamic vinegar, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for about 25 minutes. Season the sauce with a good pinch of salt, two thirds of the basil leaves and two thirds of the olive oil.
  2. Meanwhile, pit the olives by tapping them with the bottom of a cup or mug to crack the flesh, then pushing the stone out. Discard the stones and roughly chop the olives. Add these, along with the capers, to the sauce once it’s been cooking for 15 minutes.
  3. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the stringy thin edges of the runner beans, then cut them on a slight angle into 5–6 cm lengths. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the beans and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until tender but not dull or soggy. Drain and set aside. You could mix the beans and sauce together at this point and serve from the pan. However, I prefer it when the two are not fully combined: place a couple of spoonfuls of the puttanesca sauce in the base of a serving bowl, pile the drained beans on top and spoon the rest of the sauce over this. Toss the beans in the sauce just a little, before finishing with the remaining basil and olive oil.

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