Tender Middle Eastern-style runner beans cooked in spices with onions and tomatoes make a delicious vegetable dish that you can either serve as a side alongside a roast or simply enjoy with a roast potato as a light vegetarian main meal.
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Three years ago when hubby retired and started his allotment, one of the things he grew was runner beans. Unfortunately, being new to the allotment world, he was unaware of the best variety of runner beans to grow. The ones he brought home had a thick ‘string’ growing along the back, and even after removing it, the beans were quite woody and unappealing. Most of them ended up back in the compost heap!
So after some research, he found a variety of runner bean which doesn’t have a string and has the most delicious and tender flesh. I’m absolutely hooked, and can’t get enough of them. We eat these beans both steamed and boiled, and I’ve even added a few leftover cooked runner beans into this crustless vegetable quiche. But I have to say, my hands-down favourite way to prepare them is this Middle Eastern-style runner bean recipe, with lots of spices and plenty of tomatoes and onions.
The beans are tender with the warming flavours of cumin and paprika, and the tart freshness of tomatoes and onions. They make a tasty side dish with chicken or roast beef. I haven’t tried this yet, but I think they would go really well as a side with your favourite curry (can’t wait for winter when curries are back on the menu 🙂 ). And of course, if you are looking for a vegetarian meal, they are absolutely delicious when served over a roast potato.
Whenever I make this recipe, I always make an extra large batch and freeze the leftovers for another meal.
If you would like to try them for yourself, here’s how you make them.
What you will need
This recipe will feed 4 to 6 people as a side dish (probably 4 people, because I’m sure everyone will want seconds!)
**You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making these Middle Eastern-style runner beans on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Runner beans – I love to use the flat (stringless) runner beans, but there is absolutely no reason why you can make this recipe with any green beans (French, string or snap beans). You should top and tail the beans and cut them into roughly 2-inch long pieces.
Onions – white onions are preferable, but if you don’t have any you could use red onions instead.
Tomatoes – I like to peel the tomatoes first so that there are no bits of tomato skin floating around in the dish, but you don’t have to do this.
Stock – vegetable stock is preferable, and you can make your own using a stock cube. You could use chicken stock instead.
Lemon juice – you don’t need much but it does add an extra element of flavour to the dish.
Ground paprika and cumin – these add warming notes, and provide a slight ‘curry’ flavour, but without the heat.
Garlic – this should be finely minced. Leave it out if you don’t like garlic.
Olive oil – used for frying the onions. You can use vegetable oil if you don’t have olive oil.
Salt – I normally add salt to my own taste at the end once I’ve tasted the finished dish.
What to do
Start off by peeling the tomatoes. You can skip this step if you are leaving the skins on.
Place your tomatoes into a large bowl and cover them with boiling water. Leave to stand for 2 minutes then plunge them into cold water.
Using a sharp knife, make a cross at the base of the tomato and peel the skin away.
Chop the tomatoes coarsely and set them aside.
Chop the onion into half-inch dice and fry it in the olive oil on a moderate heat for 4 to 5 minutes until it becomes translucent. Stir occasionally so the onions don’t burn.
Add the garlic and stir fry for one minute more.
Stir in the spices and fry for another minute.
Add the beans and tomatoes and stir in the stock and lemon juice.
Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes until the beans are tender and the stock has evaporated. If there is a lot of liquid, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes. This will depend on how much liquid was released by the tomatoes.
Serve hot as a side dish, or spoon over rice or a baked potato for a light vegetarian supper.
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Middle Eastern-style runner beans FAQ
No, you can use canned tomatoes instead. However, you may need to adjust the amount of stock (or leave it out altogether) depending on how much liquid is in your canned tomatoes.
Technically you can, but you would have to reduce the cooking time so as not to overcook the beans. Reducing the cooking time would mean the liquid wouldn’t evaporate and the dish would be too runny.
For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend using frozen beans.
Allow the beans to cool then transfer them in meal-sized portions to either a plastic bag or other suitable freezer container. Freeze them for up to 3 months.
To use, let them defrost in the refrigerator and then reheat them gently in a saucepan on the stove. Stir occasionally.
The beans can safely be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
If you find the liquid hasn’t evaporated sufficiently you could thicken it by stirring 2 teaspoons of cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 2 tablespoons of water into the beans over a low heat. You may not need all the cornflour mixture.
Absolutely. You could add any or all of the following ground spices to the beans:
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
For a touch of heat, and to spice things up a little, you may also like to add 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes.
Save for later
If you would like to try these Middle Eastern-style green beans, why not save the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily? Just click the image below.
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If you enjoyed these runner beans, you may also like to try some of my other recipes made with green beans.
- Chinese garlic green beans – tender green beans, shallow fried until tender and coated with a tasty sauce.
- Mashed green beans (boereboontjies) – a traditional South African way of preparing green beans.
- Green bean casserole – fresh green beans and sauteed mushrooms in a creamy sauce, topped with cheese and crispy fried onions.
Middle Eastern-style runner beans
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 12 ounces / 350 grams runner beans
- 1 large onion
- 7 ounces / 200 grams tomatoes
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (about 2 cloves)
- ½ teaspoon salt or to your own taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil for frying the onions
- Wash the beans, remove both ends and cut the beans into 2-inch lengths.12 ounces / 350 grams runner beans
- (This step is optional)Place your tomatoes into a large bowl and cover them with boiling water. Leave to stand for 2 minutes then plunge them into cold water. Using a sharp knife, make a cross at the base of the tomato and peel the skin away.
- Chop the tomatoes coarsely and set them aside.7 ounces / 200 grams tomatoes
- Peel the onions and cut them into ½-inch dice.1 large onion
Cook the beans
- Fry the chopped onion in olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally over moderate heat until the onion starts to turn translucent.1 tablespoon olive oil
- Add the garlic and stir fry for one minute more.1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- Stir in the spices and fry for another minute.1 teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon ground paprika, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the sliced beans and chopped tomatoes and stir in the stock and lemon juice.½ cup vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes until the beans are tender and the stock has evaporated. If there is a lot of liquid, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes. This will depend on how much liquid was released by the tomatoes.
- Serve hot as a side dish with a roast, or spoon over rice or a baked potato for a light vegetarian supper.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
For a touch of heat, and to spice things up a little, you may also like to add 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes. Nutrition assumes this recipe will serve 6 as a side dish.
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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