French Beans

Method

French beans - notably the finest angel-hair green beans, which need no trimming - are one of my favourite vegetables. There is a tendency these days not to cook them enough, which in my view is as wrong as overcooking them.

Always cook them at a fast boil in masses of lightly salted water and with the lid off the pan as this helps them retain a bright colour. The finest French beans may take five minutes, the slightly larger ones perhaps six or seven. Start tasting after 5 minutes -they should still have some residual crunch but not be raw.

Either serve at once, dressed with a little butter, or refresh in cold water and hold till needed. Reheat by dipping in boiling water for 30 seconds.

Jane Grigson suggested an alternative of serving them with a finely chopped shallot sweated in butter with a crushed garlic, clove The drained green beans are added and stirred for a couple of minutes to warm through with a little chopped parsley. French beans are also delicious tossed in a light vinaigrette and served warm as a salade tiéde.