In South Africa, a roast dinner just wouldn't be complete without these delicious mashed green beans, or boereboontjies. Why not try them for yourself with your next roast and see what I mean?
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Mashed Green Beans
This recipe for green beans is a deliciously different way of preparing beans that I am sure your family will love.
Mashed green beans are made by boiling together green beans, potatoes and onion and then mashing them up with lashings of butter and freshly ground black pepper. They are served as a side dish with any roast meat.
This way of preparing beans can be compared to Irish colcannon, which uses cabbage instead of beans, or the British bubble and squeak where leftover vegetables are mixed with mashed potatoes and then fried until the underneath is brown and crispy.
It is also a great way of getting your children to eat their greens. When my children were younger they turned their noses up at anything resembling healthy vegetables. But they were more than happy to wolf down huge helpings of mashed green beans.
Where did mashed green beans originate?
Mashed green beans or 'boereboontjies' (pronounced boo-ra bwoyn-keys) is a traditional South African dish, originating from the early Dutch settlers, most of whom were farmers. Boere is Afrikaans word for farmer and boonjties means beans, so boereboontjies simply translates as Farmers' Beans.
Because farming was such a hard life and all manual labour in those days, hearty, starchy food was a way of keeping the workers well-nourished during their working day. Mixing vegetables with potatoes was one way of adding an extra helping of starch into the diet.
Also, money was scarce in those days, and this method of cooking the beans was a way to make the vegetables stretch to feed more mouths!
But whatever the reason, I'm glad that this recipe has survived the test of time. And I hope you agree with me that these beans will make a welcome addition to your mealtimes.
What you will need
**You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions on how to make these mashed green beans on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
This recipe will be sufficient for 4 to 6 people as a side dish.
There are only three main ingredients:
- Green beans - topped and tailed and cut into half-inch lengths
- Potatoes - peeled and cut into large chunks
- Onion - peeled and quartered or cut into 8 pieces depending on the size.
The quantities don't really matter - you just need to get the ratio correct. One quantity of beans, the same quantity of potatoes and half a quantity of onions.
So for 300 grams of beans you will need 300 grams of potatoes and 150 grams of onions.
You will also need a lump of butter to mash with the vegetables, and salt and pepper for seasoning.
This dish benefits from lots of pepper so start off with what you think you will need and then taste. I can practically guarantee that you will add more (I always do 🙂 )
What to do
Start off by preparing the vegetables, and that's basically all the work done.
Place the chopped vegetables in a pan of cold salted water. Bring it to a boil, cover with a lid and then let it boil for 15 to 20 minutes (or until the potatoes are soft enough to mash.
Drain the vegetables into a colander and then put them back into the pan.
Add the butter and a good grinding of black pepper and mash until well combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper if necessary.
Tip - don't try to mash this using a potato ricer. The texture will be wrong. You are looking for a nice chunky mix.
Serve as an accompaniment to any roast meat.
You can adapt this recipe by substituting an equal quantity (by weight not volume) of washed, chopped spinach for the beans. It is equally delicious. (Add extra pepper to this one - the spinach loves it)!
You can also make this recipe with carrots, but go easy on the black pepper with this one!
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Mashed green beans FAQ
Can I freeze mashed green beans?
Absolutely! These beans freeze really well. I always look out for specials on beans in the supermarket, take them home and cook up a big batch. Then I freeze them in plastic bags, in sufficient quantities for one meal.
To use them from frozen, just tip the frozen beans into a saucepan on a very low heat. Stir occasionally, until the beans have defrosted. Then increase the heat slightly until the beans are piping hot. Serve immediately. Do not refreeze.
If you have made this dish with spinach or carrots, you can freeze and defrost it in the same way.
Can I double up on this recipe?
Yes - that is what I tend to do if I have bought a large quantity of beans. Just keep the ratio correct, i.e. 1 quantity of beans, the same quantity of potatoes and half a quantity of onions.
Save for later
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Other vegetable recipes
You may also like these other vegetable recipes:
- Baby Marrows with Tomato and Onion - a delicious way of preparing zucchini
- Potatoes Romanoff - a deliciously creamy potato and onion casserole that’s made with only four ingredients.
- Mushy Peas - a traditional British dish - normally served with fish and chips, but just as good with sausages.
- Cheesy sweetcorn fritters
- Glazed carrots (or Vichy carrots) glazed in brown sugar and butter.
- Baked cauliflower and broccoli cheese - made with cauliflower and broccoli that have been baked in the oven.
- Buttered cabbage with leeks and mustard seeds - buttery cabbage, sweet leeks with a slight tang from mustard seeds, this recipe transforms a boring old cabbage into something special.
Mashed green beans (boereboontjies)
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 1 lb / 450 green beans topped and tailed and cut into half-inch lengths
- 2 large potatoes Cut into large chunks
- 1 large onion Cut into large chunks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ounce / 25 grams butter
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Wash the beans, snip the ends off and then cut them into 1cm pieces1 lb / 450 green beans
- Peel the onions and potatoes and chop them coarsely2 large potatoes, 1 large onion
- Place the potatoes, beans and onions into a pot of cold water with the salt1 teaspoon salt
- Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and boil for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft enough to mash.
- Remove the pan from the heat and drain the vegetables through a colander.
- Add butter and plenty of ground black pepper.1 ounce / 25 grams butter, Ground black pepper to taste
- Mash, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve hot as a side dish alongside a roast.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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