Harry Covair…the third bean


I’ve had to quickly write another post owing to the lack of clarity of my previous one which was intended to be read as a universal cautionary tale of the pitfalls of everymans’ summer vacation rather than a declaration of my own holiday going down the toilet…which it isn’t, as I’m not on holiday: my current life just seems to be one continual holiday which state I have searched for all my life  and, happily, appear to have found. So I thought I’d write about a gift of green beans which cannot be misunderstood.

The beans appeared yesterday. They were proffered, cupped in the huge earth movers that my neighbour calls his hands, from which they were tipped into my cooking apron. Haricots verts, I must confess, have been a disappointment to me in recent years but, in the spirit and giving and receiving, I was determined that something good should come of this unexpected bean wealth and so turned to Nigel Slater. My cursory research suggested that the secret to a tender and delicious haricot vert lay in steaming rather than boiling…..there was also a suggestion that parmesan is a good partner. These particular beans have sunk low in the bean pecking order which order is topped by haricot blancs (mogettes in this part of the world), and  broad beans  making haricots verts the third bean who slowly turns on a virtual Riesenrad, ignored and mumbling about cuckoo clocks and chocolate. Today, or yesterday to avoid any misunderstanding of today’s post, was the moment for Harry to get in the steam room and come out a new and delicious bean….which he did. I’m converted and the haricot vert has climbed to the top of the bean pile. All memories of limp,dark green bottled beans or stringy, vegetal dental floss have been erased.


These beans, when cooked in steam for about 10 minutes, become firm yet fondant bean flesh. There’s a bite to them rather than a collapse. Salad…a bean salad came to mind as the day was hotter than the beans. The hot beans drunk the olive oil and cider vinegar with a thirst akin to a parched legionnaire who has crawled for days across the burning sands of the Sahara and the bean taste was sharpened by sea salt and ground black pepper .Today, I’m going to try them with slightly blackened, oven roasted tomatoes…another excellent idea from Tender by the inimitable Nigel Slater.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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37 Responses to Harry Covair…the third bean

  1. I think I need to find your last post… This post was still darn amusing and I effing love what you did to the beans. Simple and effective… Much like myself. Smiley face

  2. Eha says:

    [big, big smile!] Well, I may not have had time this morning to try to think of witty words in comment, but your message was totally clear and well put as usual!! Oh, I have made the error of landing in Paris in August to find an empty city thumbing its nose at me . . . les vacances [bonnes or otherwise!] . . . . You wrote ‘that one’ at exactly the right time 🙂 ! As far as the beautiful green beans are concerned . . . enjoy. May copy your simple salad to go alongside tomorrow’s grill . . . . and, oops, I have not put a vegetable or potato in water for some thirty years . . . . steam is my closest friend!!!!!

  3. margaret21 says:

    Good old Nige. Where would we be without him?

  4. bizzyella says:

    That sounds so good. I need to find a Nigel Slater cookbook Right Now. And if you ever decide to try catering as a sideline, please do let us all know…

  5. Karen says:

    Beans just minutes from being plucked are indeed delicious steamed. I know I would enjoy both your bean salad and the ones with the roasted tomatoes.

  6. Gorgeous and if you waft them quickly over a very hot griddle pan after a light steam, something magical also happens…another option for your new found favourites!

  7. They look and sound perfect.

  8. Mad Dog says:

    They look delicious, though I wouldn’t swap them for the farmer’s broad beans that I bought yesterday 😉

  9. Mary Frances says:

    This was a delight to read, like a love letter to haricot verts 🙂

  10. I love blackened green beans, Roger. We do them often, especially this time of year. I’d love to hear how yours turned out. The initial foray is lovely.

  11. Vicki says:

    I love cold steamed beans tossed in my favourite French dressing (or even tossed in with the salad greens).
    Lovely photos as usual.

  12. ChgoJohn says:

    I’ve not bought beans in some time because I just didn’t like them boiled. Now I know better. 🙂

  13. I thought those beans were tipped over in a shirt of yours, but glad that you clarified that it was your apron. After the beans are steamed, by the way steaming seems the only way to me, how do you keep them looking so beautiful fresh green?? As I accidently, I swear it was an accident, was watching Martha Steward, please forgive me, she would throw them in iced water , in order to keep that fresh green color.

  14. EllaDee says:

    I love green beans, and many variations hot and cold, but all treated lightly as you’ve done 🙂

  15. brincs says:

    I normally boil them very quickly (two to three minutes) and then saute them in olive oil. Steaming is well worth a try though 🙂

  16. Well, I am completely envious because I made the mistake of buying pre-packaged green beans and they were godawful. Never again.

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