I absolutely love to cook runner beans this way. They take on fantastic flavor and go so well, when eaten hot, with roasted fish or white meat. They're also really good served cold as an antipasto. Please give them a try. To finish off this dish I'm going to use a great flavor enhancer called gremolata. The classic combination is garlic, lemon zest and at-leaf parsley, all chopped together really finely. It can be sprinkled over stews, broths, soups or pasta dishes at the last minute. It really brings a dish to life. You get the fragrance and sharpness of the lemon and the hum of the garlic.
- 1 1/4 pounds runner beans, trimmed
- Olive oil
- 1 (4-ounce) jar good anchovy fillets, in oil
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 dried red chili, crumbled
- 1 (24-ounce) jar tomato sauce or 2 (14-ounce) cans tomatoes, crushed
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 (7-ounce) thick pieces monkfish, skinned and trimmed properly - ask your fishmonger
- A bunch fresh at-leaf parsley
- 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- A small bunch fresh green or purple basil, leaves picked
Feed the runner beans through a bean cutter. If you don't have one, just run your peeler down each side of the bean to get rid of the stringy bits and then cut them into 1/2-inch pieces at an angle.
Your runner bean stew can be cooked in advance or started just before you cook the fish. Heat a large saucepan, big enough to hold all the ingredients, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus the oil from the jar of anchovies. Chop 4 of the garlic cloves and fry them gently with the anchovies and dried chili until it all goes soft and the anchovies break down into a mush. Pour in the crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce and add the beans and the rosemary sprigs. Season and bring to the boil. Place a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the beans are nicely cooked. If the sauce gets a little dry, add a splash of water and give the beans a stir.
Lay the monkfish pieces on a chopping board and slice them horizontally almost in half, so they open out like a book. Try to get them so you have an even thickness on both sides. Score the fish lightly and set aside.
To make the gremolata, finely chop the remaining clove of garlic with a pinch of salt. Next, finely chop the parsley and the lemon zest. Mix these with the garlic, give it all 1 last chop and put aside to sprinkle over at the end.
Heat a very large griddle pan or frying pan (or use 2 smaller ones). Season the fish well with salt and pepper and rub lightly with olive oil. Cook the fish for 2 minutes each side or until just cooked through (don't overcook).
Take the beans off the heat, taste and season them once again, if necessary. Remove the rosemary sprigs and add the lemon juice. Place a pile of beans on each plate and top with a piece of fish. Sprinkle over the basil leaves and gremolata. Or you could serve the whole lot on a big platter in the middle of the table - family service style!
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