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Now is the time to make the most of the last of the summer fresh produce says Cookery Editor Sue MacMahon.

Borlotti bean salad

Anyone who has seen my garden knows that gardening is not my forte, as I’ve had my garden made as low maintenence as possible with lots of roses and lavender plants which don’t need much attention, and no edible crops at all.  However, I’m very lucky to have a friend who has an allotment who makes almost weekly deliveries with her excess produce.  She’s now told me that the beans and courgettes are now coming to an end, but last night she dropped off some of the stripy French beans that we’ve come to love this year – they turn green once cooked and so look just like ordinary beans but have a slightly softer texture and much more flavour.

raw striped French beans

raw beans before cooking

The beans look really pretty before they are cooked – this is a mixture of the normal green beans, black beans and stripy beans before cooking:

And this is how they look when cooked – so it’s difficult to see which are which, although when you’re eating them you notice a difference.

Cooked French beans – a mixture of green beans, black beans and stripy beans

She also gave me some borlotti beans, and I’ve realised that I’d never actually cooked fresh borlotti beans before as I usually use canned ones in recipes such as our Bean Salad recipe. But they are so easy just to shell and then cook for about 15 minutes in boiling water until tender. As with the different types of French beans, it’s a shame they lose their spotted colouring once cooked as this is how they looked before cooking:

and this is how they looked once cooked:

Borlotti bean salad – fresh borlotti beans in a mint and red onion dressing

So there was a difference with some beans looking green and the others white, but they didn’t have the red markings on them.  I made a very simple dressing with olive oil and white wine vinegar, with a chopped red onion and some mint, and mixed it all together for a protein-packed side-salad to go with our grilled lamb chops for supper.

So now I need to think up some ideas for using the Chinese Sharks Fin Melon tonight!