Beans walk a fine line between being perfectly crisp-tender and overcooked, so watch your beans like a hawk and taste constantly as you cook. The moment they are just tender enough, with a slight sweetness, take them off the heat (if you are steaming them, a bowl filled with ice water is useful to stop the cooking).
This recipe is a wonderful weeknight dish eaten on its own, but it can also be served with pasta, grains or couscous to add extra heartiness. Top with (vegan) cheese or pine nuts. These beans also may be made ahead of time and eaten at room temperature.
- 500g green beans (or a mix of varieties), trimmed
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 400g mixed tomatoes
- ½ cup (100g) black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
- ½ – 1 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, plus more to serve
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- Handful parsley or basil leaves, roughly chopped
- Sea salt and black pepper
Heat the barbecue, grill pan or wok on high heat.
Slice larger beans diagonally, and leave the smaller ones whole. Place the beans in a large bowl, drizzle over some olive oil and season with sea salt. Transfer the beans to the hot barbecue (or pan/wok) and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once, until the beans have a nice char and are crisp-tender. Remove immediately and lay out on a large plate or board to cool down (don’t pile them on top of each other as the heat makes them discolour).
Leave the barbecue or grill pan on high heat. Prepare your tomatoes by cutting larger ones (like plum or beefsteak) in half or into quarters; leave smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape, whole. Place your tomatoes in a bowl and drizzle over some olive oil and season with sea salt. Toss to combine and add to the hot plate of your barbecue (or into your hot pan/wok). Blister for 5-7 minutes, until soft, charred and just about to burst. Carefully remove immediately and place in a bowl.
To make the puttanesca sauce, add the olives, capers, red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar to the bowl with the charred tomatoes, and stir. Drizzle with a 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season with pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
To serve, combine the beans with the chickpeas. Spoon over the puttanesca sauce and scatter with parsley.
Photograph: Hetty McKinnon