Green beans are a popular summer vegetable. But are they a veg? Botanists call them ‘fruit’ because fruits are structures that contain seeds. And the green bean we enjoy is an immature pod with seeds inside. Left to mature, the pod dries out leaving seeds that can be planted or stored for use as dried beans.
The term ‘vegetable’ identifies whether it should be used in a sweet or savoury recipe. And beans are not the only fruits enjoyed in savoury dishes. Think tomatoes, capsicums and courgettes.
But hey! Beans are also legumes. And legumes are a type of dry fruit.
Beetroot come in all shapes, sizes and colours these days. However, they all originated from the red beet grown on the shores of the Mediterranean and Atlantic. This ancient root veg was written about by the early Greeks who ate both the leaves and the roots.
Cabbage also originated around the shores of the Mediterranean. But the European variety is no relation to the Asian bok choy cabbage with its elongated, crisp, tender, juicy white stems and smooth green leaves. Shanghai bok choy is delicious stir-fried but also makes a refreshing salad.
GREEN BEAN BAKE
A great vegetarian main or side dish. Half cheddar and half blue cheese could be used.
200g penne pasta
400g sliced green beans
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch chilli flakes
salt and pepper to taste
175g tasty cheddar cheese, grated
2-3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Add the beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain well.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook over low heat until tender. Stir in the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk and seasonings, stirring constantly. Cook until thick. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese.
Place the beans and pasta in a large baking dish. Top with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pine nuts. Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and golden. Serves 6-8.
BOK CHOY SLAW
Dressing: 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup each: canola oil, rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon grated root ginger
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Slaw: 3 Shanghai bok choy
1/2 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1 small apple, peeled, cored and julienned
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 spring onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/4 cup coarsely chopped honey-roasted peanuts
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and place aside.
Halve the bok choy lengthwise and rinse under cold water. Thinly slice.
Place in a bowl with the red cabbage. Sprinkle the apple with the lemon juice and add to the bowl with the spring onion and coriander. Toss carefully. Sprinkle with the peanuts. Add the dressing just before serving. Serves 4.
SPIRALISED BEETROOT SALAD
During the spiralising, wear rubber gloves to prevent colouring your hands crimson.
500g medium red (raw) beetroot
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons each: soy sauce, grated root ginger, lemon juice
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Trim the beetroot and peel. Feed through a spiraliser. Alternatively, thickly shred using a cheese grater. Place in a bowl.
Combine the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, root ginger and lemon juice. Add to the beetroot the toss to coat well. Season. Add the parsley just before serving. Serves 4.