Runner beans might be crisp, nutritious and perfect served in a summery salad or braised into a stew - but they're also a pretty plant, too, with bright red flowers. The beans are eaten commonly throughout the UK, although they're only grown ornamentally in the US. Easy to grow and even easier to cook - just trim, slice and cook however you like, they're an easy peasy way to pack a nutritious hit into your meals. Take a look at the recipes below, including pickled runner beans, runner bean chutney, runner beans with butter and hazelnuts and a delicious runner bean and feta salad.

Runner beans have been grown for over 5,000 years both commercially and domestically. They're easy to grow in a home garden, too, and are stronger in flavour than regular green beans with delicious purple beans inside the pod. In season throughout the summer and into the winter months, too, they're easy to prepare and store.

To prepare runner beans, simply top and tail them. When slicing into the top of the bean, if you come across a thick string, just gently pull it out. Then just slice the beans to your desired thickness. To cook, simply drop into boiling salted water and simmer until tender. You can then pan fry however you like. Another alternative is to steam them or pan fry until tender - a little bit of olive oil and a little bit of butter will only make them taste even better, after all!

For more inspiration on how to prepare your runner beans this summer, take a look at the recipes above, including allspice runner beans, Greek lamb and runner beans and balsamic runner bean salad.