Thursday, 3 September 2009

Bean Pot

I can't remember when I came up with this but it's a firm favourite at any time of the year as it can be serve hot or cold. There are actually 2 versions of this dish: one with kidney beans and one with butter beans. I admit that we make the butter bean version a lot more frequently though with the rain lashing against the windows I opted for kidney beans - this variation feels kind of more warming and autumnal today.

version 1:
1 440ml tin of organic butter beans (no added sugar or salt), drained and rinsed
a good gug of dry white wine

version 2:
1 440ml tin of organic kidney beans (no added sugar or salt), drained and rinsed
a good glug of red wine

2-3 medium onions, halved and sliced - you may use ordinary or red onions or a mixture of both
2-3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
a few sprigs of fresh thyme

1. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan - I prefer my Le Creuset for this. Add the onions and garlic and fry over a high heat until the onions start to brown. Keep stirring to brown all the onions and to prevent them burning. The Le Creuset's sides also start getting that caramellised look, which will dissolve when adding the wine.

2. Add the wine, the beans,the fresh thyme and bring briefly to the boil. Season with pepper and salt and turn down the heat and cover. At this point, I usually move the saucepan to the smallest gas ring and turn the heat right down.

3. Gently simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally.

4. To finish, remove the thyme, check the seasoning and serve hot or cold.

Things you may want to add:
1. A couple of handfuls of coarsely chopped fresh spinach. Just add the spinach when the dish is ready and the heat turned off, it will wilt when mixing it in. This works well for both varieties.

2. With the butter bean pot, I sometimes add the following:
- black olives
- chopped sun dried tomatoes
- anchovies
- halved cherry tomatoes (approx. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time)

Use fresh broad beans, boiled or parboiled if they are quite large, instead of butter beans.

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