French beans sautés, Provençale and Lyonnaise

We’ve been really setting to with our overgrown garden, done a lot of hacking and chopping and now it’s the clearing. There is a heck of a long way to go but we’re actually talking about what we might do with the garden when it’s clear enough to do something with!! We made raised beds for vegetables but we either grew too much of things we didn’t eat enough of, or things we wanted more of didn’t really grow very well, or we took a lot of trouble over plants which without warning failed. I thought about beans, we both like beans, they are very versatile, and excess can be frozen. My favourites are  broad beans, my husband’s are runner beans, but we both like all of them! We are also very fond of French beans, so here’s something I wrote about beans a while ago –

The National Mark Calendar of Cooking is a great little cookery book, following the seasons produce with helpful hints and recipes… it doesn’t matter that it’s over eighty years old! For July’s selection, it has a focus on beans, broad, kidney and runner. In a previous National Mark Recipe Book there was advice on how to cook French beans… however in this little volume the authors say that “we may like a little variety in our methods of serving them.” The beans should be cooked – or ‘just under-cooked’ and then can have the following further preparation:

French beans sautés: heat some butter in a frying-pan, put the beans into this and toss them until they just begin to brown. Then sprinkle with a little salt, and when dished, with a little chopped parsley.
French beans Provençale: fry them as above, but use olive oil instead of butter and fry with a very little finely-chopped garlic. After the pan is off the fire, add some small pieces of salted anchovy fillets.
French beans  Lyonnaise: fry in butter or lard, having first fried in some very finely chopped onion or thin onion rings. This is like the well-known Lyonnaise potatoes using beans instead. Sprinkle with parsley on serving.

Once again, this recipe which is offered to ordinary housewives for their ordinary families, demonstrates that British cooking was more sophisticated than later post-war cooks would have us believe… olive oil, garlic, anchovies… we were doing it in the 1920’s and 30’s!


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