Hello everyone. I hope you have had a good few days. I can hardly believe that it is September already! We have had a fine few days of weather this last week, and the garden dried out enough to get gardening again. It felt good to be outside once again.
At the end of my last post I mentioned that I was about to tackle a glut of runner beans. It has been perfect conditions for a bumper harvest this summer: plenty of rain intermixed with sunshine and warmth. The bean vines are still looking very lush and healthy, and there has been a second flush of flowers which means, if the weather holds, I should be picking beans for a while longer.
Apart from enjoying runner beans as an accompaniment to meals, so far I have a couple of bags in the freezer for eating later on in the year. I seldom do anything else, although leftover cold beans make a great salad ingredient – click here for a delicious runner bean salad I posted last year. This week’s recipe gives runner beans a leading role. I hope you enjoy the fritters, they are crisp and delicious, and for a little extra effort, I would suggest making your own pesto. I am very proud of my basil plant. It is thriving in the greenhouse; the leaves have a strong, peppery bite. The quantity below will make enough for this recipe. If you double or triple it you can freeze the remainder in small batches. It will also keep for a couple of weeks sealed tight in a jar in the fridge.
Vegan pesto: put a peeled garlic clove in a small food processor with 15g basil leaves, 60g unsalted nuts such as pistachio, pine nuts or almonds (I used a combination of all 3), a pinch of salt, 50ml extra virgin olive oil and 30g grated hard vegan cheese. Blitz for a few seconds until smooth, and that’s it. Pesto perfecto! This combination makes a thick pesto which is perfect for this recipe, but add extra oil to taste for a looser pasta sauce.
I have found that strips of bean work well in this recipe. The batter has a larger surface area to cling on to and cooks really crisply. Peel the sides of the beans using a vegetable peeler and remove the stalk end. If you have a bean slicer, push them through that, otherwise, slice them as thinly as you can. Steam them over simmering water for 5 minutes, then cool in cold water and drain well. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Now, let’s get on with the recipe.
- 50g polenta
- 75g gluten-free plain flour
- 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1 tbsp flax seeds, finely ground (I use a coffee grinder)
- 3 tbsp pesto sauce – see recipe above
- 120ml dairy-free milk
- 75ml aqua fava (bean or chickpea canning water)
- 225g cooked runner beans
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Vegan mayonnaise
- Put the polenta, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Mix together and make a well in the centre.
- Mix the flax seeds with 3 tbsp cold water and leave to stand for about 5 minutes until thickened. Pour into the well.
- Add the pesto sauce and milk and whisk together to make a smooth batter.
- In another bowl, whisk the aqua fava to a stiff foam and then gently fold into the batter. Finally, carefully stir in the beans, making sure they are well covered.
5. Pour sufficient oil into a large deep frying pan or wok to a depth of about 3cm and heat to 180ºC. Fry bundles of beans in batter in batches of 3 or 4, turning in the oil, for 4-5 minutes until crisp and golden. You should be able to make 8 fritters with this quantity. Drain well on kitchen paper and keep warm until ready to serve.
6. To serve, mix 1 part pesto to 2 parts vegan mayonnaise and serve with the fritters accompanied with fresh tomatoes. Scatter with fresh basil and runner bean flowers, if liked.
Use this batter with ribbons of courgette or carrot instead – lightly steam them first. Leave out the pesto if you prefer, or simply add grated vegan cheese to the batter and some chopped chives, shredded leek or spring onion.
Until next time, take care and best wishes 🙂