Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Shades of indigo

At the Harvest Lunch in the village the conversation turned to the weather (inevitable in an English social situation) and its effect on our vegetable gardens. We agreed that it had been a very bad year for outdoor tomatoes and that no-one had a glut of courgettes. We also agreed that beans had done very well, but that the season for green beans was just about at an end – when I suggested using the mature beans shelled from the pods there was a pause in the chatter "Oh, can you do that?" someone said. Maybe I had overstepped the mark and alluded to a peasant style of cooking that civilized people had left long behind?

These beautiful shiny beans in shades of indigo are the semi-mature Poletschka beans (a climbling bean from Ukraine from the Heritage Seed Library) grown in our vegetable garden. Impressed by the tender and sweetly flavoured green pods I decided to save lots of seed for planting next year. But I had to try the flavour of the beans before they dried, after all flageolet beans - fresh haricot beans - are a gourmet dish in France traditionally served with lamb.

Supper last night was my nouvo-peasant recipe, "Chicken Poletschka":
Two large spring onions (scallions) chopped and cooked in a little olive oil in the trusty Le Creuset shallow 'buffet' casserole. Add skinned chicken joints, two whole unskinned garlic cloves, sliced mushrooms, cubed aubergine - home grown :), fresh shelled Poletschka beans, cook on a gentle heat until chicken is browned and the mushroom and aubergine lightly cooked. Lay slices of tomatoes over the top - home grown Marmande tomatoes :), and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh savoury, THE herb for beans, and black pepper. Add some boiled water to just below the level of the tomatoes. Cover and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the veg has been prepared and cooked and "The Archers" has finished. Excellent accompanied with mashed squash and rainbow chard.

Poletschka beans cooked in a casserole or soup are plump and delicious, and the indigo colour turns a warm pinky brown. Don't knock peasant food!


  1. I think that sometimes the peasant food is the healthiest, and most beautiful!

  2. Sounds lovely! And what better cooking time guide could there be than the Archers?!

  3. Beans, I love! I didn't grow any this year but hope to make up for it next year. That dish sounds marvellous, love the idea of aubergine in it too.

  4. That sounds absolutely delicious, Celia. I love peasnt food.

    We always cook the shelled beans from the runners that have grown too large. They are sweet and tender.

  5. I'm rather partial to peasant food myself. The Chicken Poletschka sounds delicious. I'd love to try it, especially with the aubergine and tomatoes added to the beans. Yum...

  6. I was reading about fresh beans when I was researching my Vermont Cranberry. They sound absolutely wonderful, when I have enough seed next year I will definitely try it. You've inspired me. Come have a look at my hyacinth beans!

  7. I an intrigued by the indigo color of the semi-mature Poletschka beans. And you said that it turns pinky brown when cooked. Peasant cooking sounds like my kind of cooking.

    p/s: I'm not English but I love to talk about the weather. I check the weather forecast every morning when I get on the internet ;-)

  8. I've never heard of these beans before, but they look stunning. I love beans as a side dish, especially borlotti, beautiful to look at and even better to eat. Could I easily grown these in the frozen north east?


  9. Looks yummy! I tried googling them to see if I could find any....nothing.

  10. Hi Ed - beans come in so many beautiful colours.

    Hi PerennialGirl - I got the seed via the Heritage Seed Library, the seeds aren't available commercially because of EU regulations (don't get me started!) and these beans were donated by Irma Jacyna, they originated from her family's village in Ukraine and she gave them the name 'Poletschka' after her family. They may be available in the next HSL catalogue or via seed swaps.


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