Around one year ago I wrote about one of my father’s summer culinary memories from his childhood: young, giant white beans cooked with slices of bacon and then served with fried onions and a lot of butter ("fasola Jaś"). For more details as regards the nomenclature and the history of this type of bean, check out my post.
And only one year ago I found out how good these beans really are, when still young and not dry. The season for them approaches, but I already had a chance to find them on my local food market a few days ago - crunchy and green. I also bought baby patty pans, as their season just started.
Here’s my recipe for a sort of vegetable stew, which main ingredients is Jaś Karłowy Runner Beans and Patty Pan Squash. Because I am a meat eater, I added some bacon (frankly, I wanted to add some chorizo, but I could not find any in my shop). You may also use your favorite sausage, or just omit the meat, and have a nice vegetarian dish. The stew tastes better on the next day, after a night in the fridge. If you omit patty pan squash, you will obtain a modified, summer version of a popular autumn/winter hearty Polish dish named “fasolka po bretońsku” (direct translation: “beans Brittany style” - although it has nothing to do with Brittany or France!) - A Polish variety of so-called “baked-beans”.
Vegetable Stew with Baby “Jaś Karłowy” Runner Beans.
Serves 4 very hungry people (or 8 moderately hungry)
2 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
500 g young and fresh “Jaś Karłowy” Runner beans
800 g ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and seeded
½ large red chili pepper (or 1 dry chili pepper), finely chopped
600 g patty pan squash, cut into 1.5 cm cubes
300 g bacon (or whichever sausage you like), cut into thin strips or cubes
150 ml tomato sauce (just in case, if there is no enough juice in the dish)
4-5 tablespoons goose grease or olive oil
Basil leaves (optional) for garnish
1 Prepare the beans: place the beans in a saucepan and cover with water (1 cm above the level of beans). Add some salt and cook (under the cover) until soft, but not overcooked (depending on the size of the beans, between 30 minutes and one hour). You really have to taste them. Strain them.
2 Prepare the onions and garlic: In a hot frying pan, heat well goose grease or olive oil, add onions and cook over medium flame for 10 minutes. Add garlic and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. Do not let onions and garlic burn. Put aside.
3 Prepare the bacon: In the meantime, in a frying pan, grill strips of bacon until gold and crispy.
4 Prepare patty pan squash: In a hot frying pan, heat well goose grease or olive oil, add cubes of patty pan and sauté them for about 10 minutes, or until al dente.
5 Prepare tomatoes: In a hot frying pan, using a bit of grease, sauté tomatoes for a couple of minutes, until the excess of their juice evaporates. If you are too lazy to do this, just put raw tomatoes into the stew (see below).
6 Finish your stew: Prepare a large sauce pan (better to use a wider one than a deeper one). Add beans, onions with garlic, patty pan squash, tomatoes, bacon, chopped chili and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, until all flavors are mixed well although vegetables should not be overcooked. If you think that you do not have enough sauce, just add a bit of tomato sauce and simmer for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving. You can sprinkle freshly chopped basil, marjoram or whichever herb you like over the dish.
You can simplify this recipe by cooking everything together at once. You also may proceed by cooking first the ingredients which take the longest time to cook, and then by adding those which cook faster, but it will not be so tasty.
Bon appétit !