GREEN BEANS ARE THE FIRST THING YOU SEE IN THE SPANISH KITCHEN GARDEN. THEIR SPRAWLING TENDRILS COVER HEAD-HIGH TRIPODS OF STICKS, MAKING THEM LOOK LIKE OVERGROWN TEEPEES. ON ANY SPARE PATCH OF LAND IN THE COUNTRY, VILLAGE OR TOWN, SOMEONE WILL TURN OVER THE SOIL AND PLANT SOME BEANS. JUDÍAS WERE ORIGINALLY FROM SOUTH AMERICA AND WERE FIRST GROWN IN SPAIN IN THE 1500S AND REFER TO THE LARGER, THICKER BEANS WE CALL RUNNER BEANS WHICH ARE AVAILABLE IN ASIAN MARKETS. UNLIKE SMALLER GREEN BEANS OR FRENCH BEANS, RUNNER BEANS REQUIRE A BIT MORE COOKING FOR AN OPTIMUM LEVEL OF SOFTNESS.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over very low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 8–10 minutes or until lightly coloured and soft, then remove from the heat and pour into a small heatproof bowl. Do not allow the garlic to burn or it will taste bitter.
Meanwhile, drop the beans into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. When the water returns to the boil, cook for another 12–15 minutes, or until tender.
Drain the beans and place in a warm serving dish. Sprinkle with the sea salt flakes and some freshly ground black pepper and pour the oil and the garlic mixture over. Toss gently and serve hot.
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