Tag Archives: onions

Italian-style green beans and lace-chewing mini goats


Castaño, our most misbehaved horse, still attends the School for Exceedingly Naughty Horses a couple of times a week and Léo has taken to accompanying us. I’m not sure whether he comes because he’s looking for general naughtiness tips, or whether he’s fallen for the stable’s miniature goat. I suspect it’s the latter; my family and I have an immoderate fascination for mischievous animals and this little she-goat fits the bill very nicely. They spend an hour climbing trees, inspecting muddy ditches, making the horses spook and charging each other with imaginary horns. She invariably takes pleasure in undoing Léo’s shoe laces with her teeth and chewing them to bits. Is ‘chewing the lace’ a goat variation on ‘chewing the cud’ I wasn’t aware of? Anyway, as I appear to lack the foresight to buy several replacement pairs at once, I’ve spent much of the past month on a quest for flourescent green laces. Never let it be said that I don’t live life on the edge.

This dish makes a wonderful accompaniment to fish or meat, or it may be served as a light lunch or supper with a poached egg on top.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1kg green beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

1 tomato, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

handful of pine nuts

12 black olives

6 anchovies

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika, piment d’Espelette or chilli powder

10g Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Precook the beans until ‘al dente’, strain and set aside. Gently heat the olive oil in a large frying pan adding the onions and cooking for a few minutes. Add the sliced red pepper, tomato and garlic and continue to cook until the red pepper and tomato soften. Add the green beans, pine nuts, olives, anchovies and seasoning, gently combining and cook for a few more minutes.

Chilli con carne and itinerant horses

This is the sort of dish that is even better a day or two after it’s made, which is just as well really as I had no time to prepare lunch, having spent all morning chasing our Houdini horses. They escape more regularly than I like to admit – let’s just say that they are well-known by everyone within a 5 km radius and by the town ‘Mairie’.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g dried red kidney beans (soaked overnight and boiled for 10 minutes)

500g minced beef

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

6 tomatoes, blanched and skinned

1 red bell pepper (cut into strips)

4 chilli peppers (sliced)

6 mushrooms, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons of tomato purée

2 glasses of red wine

250ml beef stock

1 sprig of rosemary and 2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1 square of 80% dark chocolate

Seasoning to taste : sea salt, black pepper, chilli powder

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized casserole dish and heat. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms and mince and brown well, stirring around a bit. Once browned, add the bell pepper, the chilli peppers and the tomatoes and continue to cook until gently simmering. Add the tomato purée, the kidney beans, Worcester sauce, seasoning, stock, red wine and herbs and bring back to a simmer. Cook in the oven for about two hours, checking from time-to-time that there is enough liquid. Add the dark chocolate, stirring well to melt, just before serving.

May be served as a standalone dish, like soup, or with coleslaw and green salad.

Toulouse sausages and Tarbes beans

I prepared this today for lunch as our son had a friend to stay and ‘bangers, mash and beans’ is always a great favourite with little boys. The advantage of Toulouse sausages is that they are so substantial and meaty that chewing time is longer than less ‘manly’ sausages. Increased chewing time = longer (blissful) silence at the table! What’s not to like?

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 Toulouse sausages

olive oil

can of peeled tomatos

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

sprig of rosemary

5 medium-sized mushrooms

250g of Tarbes beans (precooked)

Lee and Perrins sauce

Seasoning (sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper)

Chop the onions, garlic and slice the mushrooms and add to the olive oil in a casserole dish. Sear the sausages for a few minutes on either side on a griddle if you have one, if not in a frying pan and then add to the casserole dish. Once everything is golden brown, add the tomatoes, beans and the rosemary. Season to taste (salt, pepper, cayenne and Lee and Perrins). Cook for about an hour and a half in a medium oven (150°C), until the tomatoes begin to caramelise.