A stunningly simple recipe for a wholesome and inexpensive dish using dried beans, herbs and spices. Although I tend to include some bacon and sausage, it may be served without meats.
500g borlotti (or other medium-sized
beans, such as kidney or cannelini)
1 medium onion, whole
3 or 4 cloves
2 bay leaves, dried
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100g smoked bacon
cut into strips (if using)
1 tsp cummin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 tbsp paprika (preferably Hungarian)
2 or 3 tbsp diced capsicum flesh
800g canned tomatoes (juice included)
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
6 large pork sausages (if using)
200ml sour cream
100g tasty cheese, grated
Chopped spring onions
The day before preparing the dish, soak beans in plenty of water.
Next day, drain beans, rinse, and drain again.
Peel onion and stud with the cloves.
In a large saucepan, put plenty of water, a tablespoon of the olive oil, the clove-studded onion, bay leaves and a little salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and allow to cook very gently for about 1 1/2 hours.
(Adding a little cold water from time to time helps prevent the beans from splitting).
Drain, discarding onion and bay leaves but reserving about 250ml of cooking water.
In a large heavy saucepan or flame-proof casserole dish, put the remaining olive oil and over medium heat, fry the onion, garlic and bacon (if using) for 2 or 3 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
Add cummin, coriander and paprika, and cook a further 2 or 3 minutes.
Add crushed canned tomatoes (a potato masher is perfect for this job). Add pulp tomatoes and juice, to the onion/spice mixture, stirring well.
Then add a teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of tomato paste.
Bring to the boil and allow to reduce for 5 minutes.
Add beans and pork sausage (if using).
Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes or so.
Degree of difficulty: Low.
Keepability: Keeps a couple of days in the refrigerator and may be re-heated
or served cold as a bean salad.
Wine companion: Pinot Noir.
Serve... on its own or topped with sour cream,
grated cheese and chopped spring onion.