Runner bean, coco blanc bean and tomato stew

1 hour 45 minutes


  • 800g of runner beans
  • 250g of haricot beans, soaked overnight (or coco blanc beans if you can find them – 800g fresh or 250g dried)
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 1 red chilli
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 60ml of olive oil
  • 1 bunch of basil, leaves picked
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomato
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil, best quality


First cook the coco blanc beans. I will suggest two different methods, depending on whether you are using fresh or dried beans. If using fresh, preheat an oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Pod the beans, place them in an ovenproof dish and cover with water by 1cm. Cut the head of garlic through the waist and add it to the dish along with the sage and chilli. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Check after an hour and fifteen minutes to see if the beans are tender. If not, then place back in the oven for another 15 minutes or until cooked
If using dried beans, place the soaked beans into a pot and cover with water by 2cm. Add the garlic, sage and chilli as above and bring to a simmer on the hob. Skim off any scum that gathers and cook gently. Check after an hour to see if they are cooked; simmer longer if necessary
In both cases, once the beans are cooked, drain and discard the sage and chilli (reserving some of the cooking liquor for later). Remove the garlic from the pot and squeeze the cloves from their skins. Mash them up and stir them back into the beans. Season with salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Set aside
Prep the runner beans. If the beans are young and tender, then you can probably get away with not having to de-string them. If they’re a bit older then remove the strings by running a peeler down the length of the edge of the bean (the side that has a small ridge on it) and top and tail them
Once this is done, slice the runner beans at an angle into dainty ribbons, about ½ cm wide. Boil the beans in a pot of salted water for about 4 minutes until they are just cooked (but certainly not al-dente). Drain and set aside
Thinly slice the 3 garlic cloves and place into a saucepan wide enough to hold the beans. Add the 60ml olive oil to the pan and fry the garlic over a medium heat until it starts sticking to your wooden spoon and turns a pale golden colour. Add the runner beans, season, and braise together for 7 minutes until the beans just start to relax and collapse a bit
Add the tin of tomatoes and stir into the beans. Place a lid on the pan and simmer, stirring every now and then, for half an hour. The beans shouldn’t become dry but if they do then add a tablespoon of coco bean liquor to the pan. After half an hour, add the basil leaves and cook for 2 minutes
Using a slotted spoon, scatter the coco blanc beans into the runner beans. You want a ratio of roughly one-third coco beans to two-thirds runners (there may be too many coco beans). Wet the mixture with a few tablespoons of the bean liquor so it is saucy in consistency. Season and drizzle over the remaining 2 tablespoons of the good olive oil
This dish is best eaten warm, not too hot