It was only a few years ago that I became friends with beans. And it was only because I was in charge of three tiny treasures and I HAD to eat some. I took the lovely little ladies to a play date in London and the host served up a beautiful pasta - chock full of borlottis. Having done nothing but try and excite their wee appetites, I had to put my don't-knock-it-'til-you-try-it palate where my bean-hating tastebuds were and eat the pasta.
It was GOOD. Proving that as you age, your tastes change. I used to wear corduroy for goodness sakes.
Now that I am a bean fiend, I headed straight for The Silver Spoon, the bible of Italian cooking (the cover says so), for this week's challenge, because it is divided into vegetables and all the various recipes that suit them.
The dish I chose is a summer side dish, but due to Melbourne's glorious weather I had to team it with a winter roast chicken in an attempt to split the difference and achieve a spring meal at the very least. It is December after all.
Summer Cannellini Beans - Ingredients, serves 4
2tbs olive oil (the recipe says 3, it's far too much)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 eggplant, diced (I used zucchini because I don't like eggplant - maybe I will when I'm 40)
1 yellow pepper, halved, seeded and diced (I used orange, it was far prettier)
2 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped*
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
grated rind of 1/2 a lemon
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped (I doubled the basil and omitted the parsley)
1 sprig fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt & pepper
Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic and cook until browned, then remove and discard. Add the eggplant and pepper and cook over a medium-high heat for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and beans, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a warm serving dish. Sprinkle with the lemon rind and herbs. Mix well and serve.
This dish is a winner; the lemon makes it absolutely sing. I will no doubt be making it all summer and I plan to serve it with some BBQ'd fish next time. One of my dinner guests said he will be having a go at replicating it - which is of course the sincerest form of flattery.
Enjoy! (Thanks to the lovely Vera for gifting me the amazing The Silver Spoon)
*The best way to peel a tomato is score an X on its bottom and drop it in a pot of boiling water. In under 30 seconds the skin will blister and start to peel away. Take the tomato off the heat immediately, drain and then refresh under cold water and peel away the skin.