beans, feta, spinach & sumac

sometimes in life you lose your balance. or, to quote a glorious but tragic clown, you “fall off the life horse”. sometimes its less of a fall and more of a plummet. in these times, you have two options. resignation or beans. i choose beans – because they push you, one way or the other, over the edge. generally they seem to straighten things out. something about the fibre seems to act as a stabiliser, sometimes a tranquilizer. desperate as i was for a culinary solution to the problems that come with everyday life, (ie, the cold, a cut on my primary cooking finger, an interaction with a rigid, unforgiving, and unattractive bureaucrat, a 72 hour period which passed without even a hint of productivity, a heavy heart from it all and very heavy camper boots), i turned my attention to beans. i have had some bitter encounters with beans in my time…on more than one occasion, when i was deep in the jungles of central america, my stomach faught with beans – a fight it could never win. and so it was with some trepidation that i approached this recipe. but it was the great enthusiasm from my most dedicated and important eater, whose attitude to food and the discussion thereof can at best be described as indifferent, won me over. and so it was that i climbed back up on the dark, trauma-ridden horse and tried to re-invent my relationship to beans. it was also inspired by a recipe and a photo found in ottolenghi’s new cookbook which suddenly made everything seem ok. so here it is…my bean/life renaissance – thank you to ottolenghi. thank you to my hooded eater, who gave it an involuntary thumbs up. and thank you to snow, who through her ‘oatmeal with the lot’, showed me the power of fibre to make things good again.


2 garlic cloves crushed

1 red chilli finely chopped

8 spring onions sliced thinly lengthways

big bunch of spinach

handful of basil

300g butter beans

60g butter

1tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1tsp sumac

1tsp lemon juice

150g feta

finely chop your chilli, crush your garlic and slice your spring onions lengthways into thin strips. then chop the spinach and basil into strips, or shreds, or whatever word you think best describes what you see here

melt the butter with some oil in a fry pan and throw the beans in. cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes each until they get some colour. try not to overcook and let it all go to mush. just before they’re ready, throw in your garlic, chilli, spring onions, green stuff (reserving a handful for the glorious end) and finally the sumac. stir gently to combine and cook for another minute or so.

remove from the heat and let cool a bit until it is just warm. squeeze in the lemon juice, crumble over the feta and toss in some remaining basil. give it a gentle loving stir.

this of course was served with pine nuts – because what isnt in this place? it was, on its second night, eaten as beans on toast. the toast being the first successful sourdough of my ever-lengthening life. and so with little baby bean steps, and giant yeast-based leaps, things seem to be looking up.


10 Responses to “beans, feta, spinach & sumac”

  1. 1 Matthieu May 25, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    ah dinner proper, where would i be without you. hungry or down the take away shop is where. but anyways, this was truly an order of yum surpassed only by tonights feast which shall remain a secret till revealed here. it was a hearty enough meal for me to gather the strength to entertain the gormless students in class BUSM1311 with my favoured quote of “Sprechen sie koala” and other missives sadly missed. all duly processed and forthwith ignored. sigh. but i loves me schleps.

  2. 3 JJ May 26, 2010 at 12:01 am

    my mind is strewn across the threshing floor this morning. it’s going to be a rough day at the office. all i get is burnt coffee. beans do make the boots lighter and i would pay a handsome amount of money for this to be my lunch today. wait, do beans have to be threshed? oh, the woes of ancient agriculture…

  3. 4 smoo May 26, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Giant yeast leaps hidden away in a delicious, fibre filled meal -seems like the planets are aligning properly again to make a cool evening that much more enjoyable. As it should be.

  4. 5 Berry May 26, 2010 at 12:43 am

    that life horse can be a cruel beast sometimes. on a fibre-related note: i just OD-ed on the stuff in the form of smoo’s dried apricots. shameful really, when butter beans would have done the same job with twice the heartiness and sans the sickening aftertaste.

  5. 6 jo May 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    what on earth are you all talking about?

    giant yeast leaps?
    threshing floor?

    i don’t understand one thing on this page apart from the genius that is snowball’s salad!!

    • 7 schlepseleh May 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      snow, if you would read the body of the text im quite sure all your questions would be answered. im sorry for the confusion…i realise a busy lady like yourself does not have time for reading as many words as are written here but there is a story beyond the one told in pictures. jj,beans may indeed need to be threshed but that happens in a in a third world, far from here. im a modern girl, and i take my beans tinned. that said, i do enjoy a slice of old world fruit cake with mixed spice from time to time. also, your video was illuminating. berry, please dont speak ill of dried apricots…they are a well meaning dried fruit. have you ever had the turkish variety? spectacular though they are, they will blow you up inside. smoo, im very happy you like what i do. hello matthieu.

    • 8 Matthieu May 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm

      im very proud and indeed somewhat pleasantly surprised that you would quote Neil Armstrong, the quintessential test pilot and devil may care flying fool. no wait, thats roger ramjet. still, if he can get it wrong 250k miles away so can the rest of humanity.

  6. 9 jo May 27, 2010 at 12:20 am

    oh my mistake! it’s because i like the pictures so much, snow.
    carry on, everybody x

  7. 10 stipple effect May 27, 2010 at 10:37 am

    dear sir or madam,
    re: beans, feta, spinach and sumac.
    hello devotees of the schlep’s crafty comestibles, its always a pleasure to be in the company of such lucid enthusiasts.while i have no amusing videos to offer, nor am i a member of that superior clan known by those who know them (i am reliably informed) as the Schornikows, i do hope i can attain the hauteur of my peers.
    first and foremost, prime in the list of thoughts that entered my mind upon first encountering this post was a simple question: who put da beens in ma bindle? when i discovered the culpable party, i despatched of the rodent swiftly and travelled on, with haste, to my local taverna.

    thats quite enough of my leisure-sports, there’s food to discuss!

    i cooked this very dish but one moon passed (a different moon, less talented) and found it to be most satisfactory. i have some daguerrotypic evidence for the interested, unfortunately i seem unable to attach them to this missive. i should clarify however that parsley was added also. is this acceptable? must i make it again, free of the contaminating influence of the vermin herb? furthermore in this vein i deployed the meaty warmth of smoked paprika in the place of sumac, largely thanks to marika’s inability to locate it on the safeway shelves. she tried, did marika, boy she tried – but she’d never heard tell of it before and by the time she’d climb all the way along the top of the aisle 7 right-hand shelf, with me belaying, we both agreed to forego the sumac. again, much like successive waves of non-white migration to this country have my beans, spinach and feta been poisoned by the malicious presence of the parasitically delicious eastern european spice?

    in conclusion, the provisional government was neither willing nor able to withhold the right to representation from the early colonists. it was both politically unavoidable and economically necessary. but the question for the history books remains: who put da beeens in am bindle?

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