Cuisine Fiend

garlicky runner beans

Fri, 2 November, 2018


Runner beans are common as muck, stringy, need to be sliced thinly on the diagonal - and utterly gorgeous with lots of garlic and butter.

buttered runner beans

I know my food, or so I like to think

Nobody likes to admit they were wrong. It’s human nature – nobody knows their stuff better than we do ours. So naturally, I am the be all and end all of food; nothing infuriates me more than someone professing they know better about cooking, nutrition and such unless they are professionally qualified.

Opinionated? Moi?

So if I say things like: ‘kale is inedible’, ‘shortcrust pastry always wins over puff’, ‘you have to separate your eggs to make a decent cake’ and ‘muffins? who cares about making muffins?’ I expect to be listened to and applauded.

I don’t like to be contradicted; even less so to realise myself, albeit in the privacy of my own dinner plate, that I might possibly not have been entirely right.

sliced runner beans

What are runner beans good for?

And so I have been saying for what seems like centuries that runner beans are a huge misunderstanding; a stringy, fibrous and tough vegetable that is grown in England only because the English don’t know any better about haricots verts, Italian beans and so on.

I have probably had one run-in with the runners and decided for ever. Well guess what – I was completely wrong.

garlicky runner beans

Why might we dislike runner beans?

One thing in my defence is that runner beans, like a lot of vegetables in this country, are picked too late: when overgrown and over-tough. I have toyed with the idea of using them since I had a cheffy dish of the beans raw, sliced stick thin and tossed in some supremely sophisticated dressing.

I’ll cut to the chase now (to the run, ha!):  they are gorgeous. I bought some with the raw cheffy thing in mind but couldn’t be bothered so I sliced them, blanched them, buttered them. Epiphany.

And the lesson from the story?

It’s so good to be wrong if it means a brand new dish to be enjoyed.

garlicky runner beans

Servings: 4Time: 15 minutes
Rating: (2 reviews)


  • 500g (about 1 pound) runner beans, as slim as you can get
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp. dried white breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan
  • a large pinch of sea salt flakes


1. Top and tail the beans; de-string on both sides. Rinse them in cold water and cut into diamond shapes on a really long diagonal. Use a sharp knife or a mandolin on the widest setting.

2. Bring a pan of salty water to the boil; add the beans and simmer for 4-5 minutes until crunchy but not tough. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop them cooking further.

the best runner beans

3. In the same, empty pan over medium heat melt the butter; add the garlic slices and fry gently until the butter foams and the garlic colours very slightly. Stir in the breadcrumbs.

how to cook runner beans

4. Return the beans to the pan and toss with the garlic; cook for a few minutes mainly to heat them up again. Stir in the white pepper and the Parmesan.

5. Serve immediately sprinkled with a pinch of salt flakes.

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Your comments

Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Lynette - I'm pleased it's adaptable for vegans!
3 months ago
Lynette Basha
As a vegan, this has become a favourite. Also great with vegan cheese and butter. Thank you!
3 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Rob - pleased you've enjoyed them!
4 months ago
Rob Williamson
Didn't have any breadcrumbs and had to use Cheddar instead of Parmesan - but still excellent! Thanks.
4 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
That's great, David!
6 months ago
David Collins
Didn't have any salt free butter but even so it was really good- think it might be a regular. Thanks!
6 months ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi David - I think that unsalted butter is better for cooking and salt is added to taste, as much or as little as you want.
6 months ago
David Collins
what benefit do you get by having salt free butter and then add salt?
6 months ago

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