It is a mystery to me that one of the most glorious of Greek summer vegetables seems not to have travelled outside the Aegean and, as far as I can ascertain, is unknown in the rest of Europe. It is a delicacy,usually in season from July through to September, which for me surpasses any other, and to define it just as a bean salad seems to totally belittle this dish. I am,of course, talking about Ambelofásoula – fresh black-eyed beans.
We are all familiar with the dried variety – those small,ivory beans with the little black dots. They make a perfect addition to the variety in any mezé . The fresh variety, though, seems to be
totally overlooked outside Greece and its archipelago. These dark green strings grow on bushy plants and produce beans all summer long.
And so, it was an unexpected delight, well into October, to be offered a whole basket of ambelofásoula by our friend, Panagiótis.
‘They’ll need a little more cooking than usual’ he said, ‘ And the bigger ones, you know, you’ll need to pod them’.
Yes, the bigger ones did need podding but, sitting on possibly the most beautiful veranda on Paros, on this divine, autumn morning, podding ambeofásoula was not a chore. And maybe they did need a touch more cooking – but the flavour was well worth the effort.
We eat them, drizzled with good Parian oil and a little salt and lemon juice, along with a dish of sautéed courgettes and village eggs.
One day the great chefs of the world will discover the ‘caviar’ of the beans and they’ll be in all the supermarkets- but until then, we’ll have to wait for a trip to Greece in the summer.