By David Marks
Runner Beans are a classic British summer vegetable and young ones straight from the garden are a delight. We describe a simple recipe for cooking them as a side vegetable below which makes the most of their fresh taste. Many gardeners grow too many runner beans and thoughts turn to freezing them. Yes it can be done and we describe how to do it but fresh is always best when serving this vegetable on its own. Turn it into a soup though or add it to a Keema Curry, a Paella Valencia or a Spanish type omelette and frozen runner beans will do the job just perfectly.


Cut off the tops and tails and chop the runner beans into 3cm / 1in portions. Put them into boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and serve with a knob of butter. Simple but the perfect way to enjoy runner beans.

And whilst on the subject of cooking runner beans, beware, they are definitely not good for you if eaten raw. Some say they are poisonous when eaten raw but this may be an exaggeration. However, eat a few whole runner beans raw and you may well feel the worse for it. The article here explains why.


500g of home grown runner beans, top and tail and cut into 3cm / 1in slices
1 largish onion chopped
30g butter
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon normal sugar

Add the onions and butter to a pan on a medium heat, fry for 10 minutes stirring every minute or so to stop the onions sticking.

While the onions are frying, boil a pan of water and add the runner beans. Cook for 4 minutes and drain away all the water.

When the onions are cooked add the white wine vinegar and sprinkle in the sugar. Turn up the heat and stir all the ingredients well for 90 seconds.

Add the runner beans into the pan with the onions, stir well for 30 seconds and serve as soon as possible.


A Keema curry is basically a minced meat curry which uses lamb or beef. In India they would use only a small portion of meat but lots of vegetables. The choice of vegetables would consist of whatever was available from the local market. Often this would be peas although chopped runner beans would make a delicious alternative. The curry should be slightly drier than a normal curry and not sloppy. This would be a mild dish in order to let the spices, meat and vegetables shine through. Our favourite recipe for keema curry can be found here.

Keema Curry


500g runner beans cut in 3cm pieces
3 tbsp olive
1 onion thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tomato cut into quarters
2 green chillies
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut milk
¼ teaspoon curry powder

Heat the olive oil and add the onion and bay leaves and stir. Then add the rest of the ingredients apart from the coconut milk and curry powder.
Mix gently for a few minutes.
Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil and simmer until cooked through, about 7 minutes.
Taste, and sprinkle with curry powder if needed.

Serves 4.

This keeps well in the fridge to be heated up as needed.


300g runner beans
300g new potatoes chopped into 2cm cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves , finely sliced
large pinch chilli flakes
2 cloves
2 x 400g tins plum tomato , drained of juice
small bunch basil , leaves torn

Run a potato peeler down either side of the beans to remove any stringy bits.
Cut on the diagonal into 2cm pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic.
Cook for 2 minutes then add the beans, chilli and cloves.
Cook for 2 minutes then tip in the drained tomatoes and potatoes.
Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick and rich.
Stir through the basil just before serving.



Sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article above. Our
Runner Bean comment / question and answer page
lists their comments, questions and answers. At the end of that page there is also a form for you to submit any new question or comment you have.