Runner beans with fresh tomato, cinnamon, bay and dried orange peel

I love dried orange peel. The only kitchen I really saw it in was in Thia Koula’s house. She was fanatical about it and  always had quite a lot hanging from various things in her kitchen, but usually from door handles and cupboard knobs.

I used to spend most of my afternoons in her kitchen sitting at her large wooden table covered with a plastic tablecloth with fake lace around the edges. She would offer me oranges all the time but only if she prepared them for me. She would get her little knife from her apron pocket and carefully begin by removing a very thin layer of orange, starting from the very top of the fruit and moving down in a circular way right to the bottom. She would always do it perfectly, I never saw her break the spiralling peel shape –  not even once. It took me a long time to master this. She woul let it dry until it was really hard and shrivelled and then would add it to most tomato-based meat stews.  It’s so evocative that even as I write this, I can smell the orange peel in her kitchen.

 

500g fresh ripe tomatoes (chopped)

300g trimmed runner beans

2 garlic cloves

5 fresh bay leaves

1tsp of dried oregano

1 cinnamon stick

A splash of red wine

Dried orange peel from 1 orange

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

 

Heat a saucepan over a medium heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Chop the garlic and add it to the oil together with the bay, oregano, cinnamon and orange peel. When the garlic begins to colour, add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Place a lid on the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the splash of wine and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to look like a sauce. Add the beans and a little water and cook gently until the beans are really soft and the sauce is thick and rich. Check for seasoning and serve.