This stew makes a delicious light lunch or dinner. If you want something a little heartier, add a pan-fried fillet of white fish or chicken.
I specify flat beans below, but any green beans with an edible pod will work with this: green beans / French beans, flat beans, runner beans, sugar snap peas – the choice is yours. And if you haven’t got thick, syrupy balsamic vinegar, use balsamic glaze instead. This isn’t the place for the thin, cheaper, more acidic balsamics.
2 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon, sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)
Salt and pepper
3 – 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 cups (500g) of passata or crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
1 sprig of rosemary, left whole
350g flat beans, topped and tailed, and cut in bite-sized pieces on the diagonal (If using green beans, just top and tail – no need to cut into pieces)
Really good quality balsamic vinegar, or balsamic glaze
To serve: crusty bread
Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and a drizzle of olive oil and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside for a moment. You can drain off a little of the fat if you have a lot, but leave about 1 tbsp behind.
Add the chopped onion with the chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes or so, stirring often. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the passata, a small splash of water, a pinch of salt and pepper and the sugar. Nestle in the sprig of rosemary, return the bacon to the sauce and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add the chopped beans and cook for 10 minutes or so, until the beans are tender but still with a bite of bite. Remove the rosemary and discard. Ladle the stew into shallow bowls or wide plates and drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar. Serve with lots of crusty bread for swiping.