Spicy smoky runner beans and tomato


It’s late September and runner beans rule. They lend themselves to both spicy and subtle flavours. We’re going with punchy spice here. This dish is best cooked a day ahead, letting the flavours get even cosier. No need for precision: this recipe is super-flexible, so go with your whims. If you want intense tomato to dominate, add an extra tin of toms. Bump the spice quantities up or down or experiment with different kinds. Or, go heavy on onion (try three) which brings a special depth of flavour. To turn the dish into a main, add red lentils or a tin of chickpeas or butter beans, and serve with a protein-rich grain such as freekeh – the smokiness and chewy texture of freekeh is a perfect match.


  • Runner beans, 500g - washed and cut into 3-4cm long pieces
  • Onion, 1 large - halved and sliced thinly
  • Garlic, 4 cloves - minced
  • Olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • Spices: 1 teaspon each of ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon and smoked paprika
  • Red chilli, 1 small - finely chopped (or a pinch of dried flakes)
  • Tin of tomatoes (including liquid) - chopped
  • Fresh tomato, 1 large - chopped
  • Tomato puree - 1 tbsp
  • Sugar - 1 tsp
  • Veg stock/bouillon powder - 1 heaped tsp


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan to a medium heat. Add the onions and stir-fry 3 mins until softened. Add the spices, garlic and chilli and stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes. Add the runner beans and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring to integrate well with the onion mixture.
  2. Turn heat up and add the tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, ground black pepper, half a cup of just-boiled water and a heaped teaspoon of veg bouillon. Let bubble vigorously for a minute or so, then turn down to low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt if you wish.
  3. Let the mixture cool. Ideally serve the next day or a few hours later. Serve hot on a bed of grain or with toasted pitta bread, and with a little crumbled feta or cheddar or plain yogurt on top. A side-dish of sautéed carrots tossed with toasted cumin seeds works well too.