About the Recipe
A simple dish of pink mottled borlotti beans, simmered until tender and creamy textured in a fragrant vegetable and fresh tomato sauce.
This no-frills dish is the epitome of comfort food paired with a rice pilaf and crusty bread.
My parents served it with extra-virgin olive oil, thickly sliced red onions and with lemon wedges (extra lemon squeezed over food is a predilection of the Rhodeslis).
When in season, I like to use fresh borlotti beans from my garden or from the farmer's market and simply add them to the prepared tomato sauce and cook gently until tender.
Rustic and healthy, food really doesn’t get any better than this.
175g (6oz) (1 cup) dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in twice their volume of cold water and drained 2 dried bay leaves 1 small whole onion, peeled
For the tomato sauce: 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 red onions, finely sliced lengthways
2 young celery stalks with some leaves, finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely cubed 2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped 1 tsp paprika a pinch Turkish red pepper flakes 3 garlic cloves, finely grated 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped ripe tomatoes or canned tomatoes
1 tsp sugar 2 cups hot water 1 tbsp dried Greek oregano 1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill 2 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, use leaves and tender stems sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve: 1 tbsp roughly chopped dill 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, use leaves and tender stems extra-virgin olive oil
Cook the beans: Put the beans in a pan with enough cold water to cover by 2.5cm (1in). Add bay leaves and onions. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 11⁄2 hours or until tender but not mushy. The cooking time depends on the quality and age of the beans. Check frequently as they cook, adding a little water as necessary. Drain in a colander and rinse well under cold running water. Discard the onion and bay leaves.
Make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large shallow heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, fennel, leeks, paprika and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and the beans to the pan. Pour in 2 cups hot water. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the beans are soft. As the beans simmer, maintain the liquid a little under the level of the borlotti beans, adding hot water as needed.
Stir in the oregano, dill and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for a further 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Sprinkle with dill and parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Stella’s Hint: * You can substitute 2 x 400g (140z) cans borlotti beans, drained and rinsed for the dried beans and cook for 20 minutes in the thickened sauce with the herbs.