We’re not in the summer yet, not by a long way, but the spring does seem to be in a hurry to move forward here. Consequently I’m having to decide very quickly what to plant in our kitchen garden this year. Since I created the no-dig beds a couple of months ago, I haven’t had time to plant anything, and the only plant showing is the rhubarb that just refuses to give up.
We don’t have a big kitchen garden, it’s as much about looking pretty as producing food. But the few crops that we manage to harvest have to be ideal for summer eating and entertaining.
That’s why this year I shall be growing a lot of basil for making delicious pesto sauce for our pasta;
plenty of tomatoes, zucchini and aubergine or eggplant for our stuffed vegetables
and hopefully this year some coco de Paimpol, or white beans which are quite divine as a summer salad. They can actually be bought all year around as dry beans, and the recipe below can be adapted to using dry beans in case you don’t have the possibility or indeed the wish to grow them yourself.
To make a salad of Coco beans for four people as a main dish or for eight people as a small appetiser with a glass of rosé before the meal, you will need:
350 g / fresh white beans preferably the variety Cocos de Paimpol
one onion with a clove inserted for cooking
one finely chopped onion (I prefer to use a violet onion)
sprig of thyme
3 large spoons of olive oil
2 spoons of balsamic vinegar
Cover the freshly shelled beans with cold water, and drop the onion with the clove and the sprig of thyme into the water Bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the beans are just tender.
Strain, rinse in cold water and leave to cool. Chop the violet onion finely, and prepare the vinaigrette then pour the beans into a deep salad bowl and add the onion and vinaigrette with a little chopped chives or basil to taste. Some people like to add some small cherry tomatoes cut in half, but the beans are delicious without.
All this beautiful food was prepared and shot at the Château de Moissac, photos by Franck Schmitt for the book My Stylish French Girlfriends.