It's officially the first day of summer and true to form here in England, the rain is torrential. Nonetheless, we carry on regardless, cheerfully wearing shorts, smiling and saying things like "Nice day for it" or "A bit wet out, isn't it?"
The bad weather isn't going to affect my cooking though. I'm not going to suddenly revert to turnip stew just because there are lifeboats sailing past my first floor windows. I'll pray for sunshine tomorrow, and hope the barbecue will make an appearance or two this year.
With that in mind here are some fresh summer green beans, cooked for a matter of minutes in boiling water then run through a hot pan with a clove or two of crushed garlic and olive oil. They are more delicious than chips, and that's a fact. It's a simple accompaniment to many dishes I make and a necessity with Sunday lunch.
Being summer, though, there are so many plants and herbs growing like magic beanstalks that it seems rude not to use as much as possible. So I jazzed up the beans with chives and their flowers, fennel fronds, chervil and some of the remaining wild garlic I had instead of the usual crushed cloves. A good drizzle of olive oil - just enough to make them silky, not too much that they are swimming in the stuff - and some salt finished this off nicely.
We eat it cooler than I would usually serve to protect the delicate flowers. Served with a little fish and butterhead salad it's a quick and easy summer supper. Even if it's a monsoon rain.
Ingredients 250g dwarf beans (extra-fine if you can) A few chive flowers A small bunch of chives, finely chopped Some fennel fronds A small handful of chervil, finely chopped A few wild garlic leaves, chopped. (If not, a clove of crushed garlic) Olive oil Salt to season
Method Cook the beans in salted, boiling water for about three to four minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop them cooking. Heat a pan with some olive oil and add the chopped garlic (leaves or cloves) and chives. Swirl around for a few seconds then add the beans back in and mix well. Season with a little salt then leave to cool for a minute. Add the chive flowers, fennel fronds and chervil, drizzle with a little oil and serve.