Haricot bean casserole is a great way to use up a summer glut of courgettes, making a delicious and nourishing one pot meal.
What are Haricot Beans?
Haricot beans are the beans in ‘baked beans’. They are familiar to everyone, yet somehow not everyone knows the name. In America, the haricot is known as the navy bean. Not because of its colour, of course, but because it was a staple part of the rations of the US Navy in the 19th century.
In fact, haricot or navy beans have been a staple of the Americas for a long, long time. The beans probably originated in South America, where they were first cultivated over 9,000 years ago.
How to cook haricot beans
When cooking haricot beans, I treat them in a similar way to chickpeas. I pick out any discoloured ones and then soaking overnight with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. This softens tough skins, and reduces cooking time. When soaked in this way and then gently simmered, they will cook in around half an hour. Do check before you drain them, though, as the age of your beans can cause some variation.
140 g (2/3 cup) of dried haricot beans gives approximately 340 g of cooked beans, a little less than 3 times cooked to dried volume.
If you are in a hurry use caned haricot beans, or even rinse the sauce off a can of baked beans.
Haricot Bean Ratatouille Casserole
In this recipe I use haricot beans to add protein and substance to a ratatouille, made with slowly cooked courgettes (zucchini). This is a great use for the larger or late season vegetables that are no longer tender. Slow cooking renders them meltingly soft. The result is a delicious, warming autumnal haricot bean stew that is packed full of nutrition but low in fat.
I added a handful of fresh mint rather than the more traditional Mediterranean herbs. We had plenty of it and it goes particularly well with the courgettes. You can, however, use whichever fresh herbs you have in your garden or window box.
Quantities are approximate and completely flexible. This makes your haricot bean ratatouille perfect for using up the seasonal glut from the garden, or bargains from the shops.
How to Make Haricot Bean Ratatouille Casserole
Step 1 – Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan. Gently sautée the onions and garlic until translucent and soft.
Step 2 – Add the courgettes, mint, and a sprinkle of salt. Then turn the heat right down (I use a diffuser on my lowest gas ring). Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The courgettes should become very soft. You may need to add a little water during the cooking.
Step 3 – Add the tomatoes and haricot beans. Stir and allow to cook for another 15–20 minutes, until the tomatoes and beans are tender.
Step 4 – Season to taste and garnish with some extra herbs. Serve your haricot bean casserole (or navy bean ratatouille!) with a hunk of crusty bread.
Haricot Bean Ratatouille Casserole
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (sliced)
- 1-2 courgette (depending on size) (sliced)
- 1 tbsp mint or other herb leaves (shredded)
- a handful of tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 170 g haricot beans (cooked from 70 g dried)
- salt and pepper to season
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and gently sautée the onions and garlic until translucent and soft.
- Add the courgettes, mint (reserving a few leaves) and a sprinkle of salt. Then turn the heat right down (I use a diffuser on my lowest gas ring). Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The courgettes should become very soft. You may need to add a little water during the cooking.
- Add the tomatoes and haricot beans. Stir and allow to cook for another 15–20 minutes, until the tomatoes and beans are soft.
- Season to taste, garnish with some extra herbs and serve with a hunk of crusty bread.
- If you are in a hurry use canned haricot beans, or even rinse the sauce off a can of baked beans!