something fishy, something green: beans and sardines

when doing my shopping today, i stumbled across some fresh green beans (bush beans, to be precise!) and as the colour was so appealing, they went straight into the shopping basket. i admit to being an impulse shopper and often tend to end up buying more food than i need … but at least beans are in season, meaning they are local produce.

green beans with lemony sardines

beans and sardines

first one needs to chop a bit of both ends of the beans and, if needed, take out the ‘string’ that runs along the skin on one side … if the beans are really fresh and young it is not needed, but older beans might be a bit stringy. then they go straight into a pot with lots of boiling salted water – i always add a good pinch bicarbonate of soda, as it helps to keep the colour of the beans (and they also cook quicker). they need to heavily boil for about 7-8 minutes in order to be tender but not soft – they are done once they make a squeaking sound on your teeth when biting into them. pour them into a sieve and quickly rinse them in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process.

while the beans are boiling, shop up a clove of garlic, one shallot and a good tablespoon of summer savory (in german we call it ‘bohnenkraut’ … from the name you can guess that it is the perfect herb for beans!). shallow fry the shallot and garlic in a frying pan with one teaspoon of olive oil in order to soften them and season with fleur de sel and freshly ground white pepper. then add the chopped summer savory and a good tablespoon of butter and turn the heat on very low. the butter should just melt and heat up the savory but it should not foam much. add the beans to the herby mix and mix well – you might want to leave it on the stove for a couple of minutes to warm the beans again.

for the sardines i have used canned sardines (which works well), a variety with added lemon. take the sardine pieces out of the oil and quickly season them with some freshly ground, but relatively coarse, white pepper. put them in an ovenproof dish and under the grill at a low to medium heat for about 8-10 minutes and turn them once (do check on them occasionally, as grills vary and you don’t want to burn them). as they are cooked already, you just want the flesh to become slightly crisp on the outside and warmed through and through on the inside (the fish on the photo is not burnt, it is just different shades of the fish meat, from pale to oily dark). obviously you can use fresh sardines as well and grill them with some fleur de seil, pepper, oil and lemon – but for a quick version, the canned variety is great.

serve the sardines with the beans and sprinkle some chili flakes on top – just for the eye. it is a quick and gardeny lunch and gives you a hearty flavourboost!

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