One of the surprises from the garden this year has been how great tasting runner beans are. Not bush beans, not pole beans, but runner beans. Normally you year of Scarlet Runner Beans, and how much the hummingbirds love the small red flowers, and this is why I grow them. This year I even got some pink ones (I think the variety is Lady Di?)
It turns out the bean pods, which are a bit rough and hairy, are incredibly good eats!! Yeah, they get bigger and look more coarse, but that's in no way a bad thing. When cooked in a brothy soup that has had finely minced garlic added, the texture of the beans collected the garlic from the broth - THAT was a bit odd, but still tasted just fine. I've found harvesting them about as big as the ones in my hand below seems ideal - any smaller and they can be a bit floppy when cooked, and any bigger and they risk being too firm (although slow cooking would work with them).
So I harvest them about this big, cut them in roughly 1-2" pieces, and either steam, add to soup, or fry up with bacon and garlic (with a bit of pre-steaming first). Our microwave makes it super handy with a "vegetable" button - gets it right every time! Then, for extra oomph, I've tossed them in a skillet with some bacon that's already been cooking and a little garlic. YOWZA!
I'm trying to make sure I'm leaving a number of the pods to finish on the vine so I can collect the seeds for next year. So far, the only real difference I've noticed between Lady Di and Scarlett is that the Lady Di pods might be just a tiny bit lighter in color with just a little less fuzziness to them. They all taste great though.