White asparagus, purple basil, onion blossoms and fresh turmeric root have all become viable ingredients, and how easy they make it indeed, to forget that on a scale, between commodity and luxury, they tilt heavily towards the luxury corner.
I do, however, always return to the comforts of comfort, because as much as those heels are drop dead sexy, snickers will forever be more comfortable. A dense, thick-crusted bread with salted butter, rice topped with a poached egg and a bowl of hearty stew with added shaved parmesan are more then enough to satiate the hunger within. One such dish is this bowl of beans, cooked as I learned in Florence not too long ago, but now long gone.
Tuscany is known for the freshness of its beans when in season and this dish truly captures the effortless red lipstick of food, with a quintessential heavy Italian Acc-a-cent.
Roughly based and heavily adapted from a recipe published in Jamie Oliver's Jamie’s Italy
500g dried or fresh Borlotti beans (cannelloni, butter or zolfini beans will work too)
1 potato, peeled
2 ripe tomatoes, crushed
½ bulb of garlic
A bunch of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage and bay leaves)
Extra virgin olive oil
For the sauce:
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
3-4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3-4 sage leaves
1 green chilli, chopped finely
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- If using dried beans soak overnight in a large bowl covered with cold water. Drain and rinse.
- In a large saucepan, place the beans, potato, crushed tomatoes. Garlic and herbs. Drizzle with olive oil, place over the heat and bring to a boil.
- Skim any froth from the surface and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, until the beans are soft and tender.
- Drain the beans, discarding of the all but 1 cup of the cooking water. Set aside.
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot fry the green chilli for a few seconds, then stir in the garlic, sage leaves and tomato chunks. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes have come apart into a thick sauce. Pour the cup of cooking water and bring to a gentle boil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the cooked beans and add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Drizzle olive oil and serve.