Green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta

This is a really lovely dish from Rachel Roddy writing in the Weekend Guardian recently - an Italian warm vegetable sort of salad/stew with soft flavours of braised runner beans, tomatoes, olive oil, salt - all warm and beautiful on a summer's day served with some good bread.

I couldn't resist trying it immediately (nope, patience has never been a strong point of mine!) so I ended up making it slightly differently with the ingredients I had.

I still loved it and I'll be making it again, both the way I made it, and going back to try the original.

It's pretty much perfect in its simplicity just as it is, although would make a great accompaniment to any grilled / barbecued meats of fish too.

You'll find the original recipe HERE.

And because my local shop didn't have any fresh basil the day that I made it, and because I had fine beans rather than runner beans, I made some tiny changes to the flavours - without the basil it would need something so I also used a few slices of chilli pepper and some ground cumin.

If you have fresh basil, then omit the chilli and the cumin.

Note that you leave the dish to sit for an hour or two after cooking to be served warm, so factor that into your timings!

Or just eat it hot of course.

Or make it the day before you want it and reheat very gently to serve - I imagine the flavours will only get better when left overnight.

Here's how I made a big pot, enough for two.

You'll need: 

1 medium white onion, very finely sliced


1/2-1 small red chilli, very finely diced

a couple of tablespoons olive oil (I used 20 sprays of my spray cooking oil and a splash of water when it needed it) 

equal quantities of green beans or runner beans, and ripe tomatoes - I think I used 200-300g of each (and use the very best tomatoes you can get hold of - ones with lots of flavour)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

a good chunk of Feta cheese to serve

Get the ingredients together

Get the ingredients together

Top and tail the beans and cut into small pieces

Top and tail the beans and cut into small pieces

Remove tough cores from the tomatoes and dice

Remove tough cores from the tomatoes and dice

Put the oil in a pan and when warmed, add the finely sliced onion and a small pinch of salt, and the chilli (if using) and cook gently over a low-medium heat until the onion is soft - if you use a spray oil like me, you'll need to add a splash of water or two as it cooks to prevent the onion burning. Cooking onions until soft always takes longer than I think it will - probably around 10 minutes.

Add the beans to the pan, stir well to combine with the onion, then cook - still stirring - for a 3-4 minutes.

Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta
Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta

Add the tomatoes, another small pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (if using) then cover the pan and leave for a couple of minutes. Uncover the pan and stir, then cover for another 4-5 minutes (have a look and stir if you like - and if you need a little splash of water add it - although the juice from the tomatoes should be coming out now as it has time to cook with the lid on).

Once the tomatoes are releasing their juice, uncover the pan and cook uncovered on a low heat, simmering gently, for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta
Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta
Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta

The beans will be really tender and the sauce lovely and thick.

If you have fresh basil add a handful of torn basil leaves now for a couple of minutes. 

Taste and see if it needs any seasoning, then remove from heat and allow to sit for an hour or two before serving warm with the piece of feta crumbled over and served with bread, if liked. 

Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta


Does feta make everything taste better?

I'm currently obsessed with feta cheese.  But less as a cheese and more as a seasoning. 

It's slightly sharp and sour and salty, and a little crumbled over many dishes just makes them that little bit more special.

Experiment with any dishes you like of course, and I'd love to know what you found works, but my top three (this week anyway) are ... 

1. Salads

Rachel Redlaw feta

Any salads really.  

I've had a little feta in my lunchtime salads this week.  

All of them had a variety of leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and spring onions.  A couple of days I had avocado, and some black olives, another day I had some chicken that I'd stir-fried the night before with red and yellow peppers and some oregano.  

All with a little olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon. 

All with feta crumbled over at the end.

2. Omelettes 

Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta

Two eggs, beaten and a few pieces of diced butter.  One tomato or a mushroom, chopped finely.  

Heat the pan and add a little olive oil, tip in the airy beaten eggs and the chopped veg on top.  Season.  

Cook, tilting the pan, letting the uncooked egg run under where it starts to cook and right at the very, very end, crumble in some feta, fold the omelette and remove from heat.  

Eat ... 

3. Couscous and stir-fried things

Rachel Redlaw feta

I always though couscous was both incredibly bland and also a bit of a faff (with putting it into a bowl mainly so probably not that much of a faff really) until I saw this recipe in Jamie's 15 Minute Meals.

Ingenious, simple and tasty way of making couscous.

While the kettle's boiling, throw some spinach leaves in the food processor along with some mint leaves and a couple of spring onions.

Blitz up then remove the blade and throw in half a cup of couscous (for two people) and a whole cup (just double the water to couscous) of boiling water.  

Cover and leave while you cook the rest.

Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta

When done, just fluff up the couscous with a fork, squeeze over the juice of half a lemon (or to taste) and season with salt and black pepper.  Stir well.

For the topping, the original recipe was chorizo and squid, with red peppers stir fried with a drizzle of honey and some sherry vinegar.  I had chorizo but not the other things so did a stir fry with chorizo, garlic, chilli, red pepper then after about four minutes added some prawns and scallops that I'd found in the freezer.  A splash of water, a squeeze of lemon, a tiny pinch of sugar. 

I've made this couscous before with all sorts of toppings - chicken, chorizo, seafood, stir fried veg ... all good. 

Tip the couscous onto a plate or platter, top with the stir-fry and ... yep ... crumble over some feta cheese. 

Rachel Redlaw feta

These are just a few ideas, but I can't wait to hear what else you add feta to!