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
1tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1tsp lemon juice
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.