A glorious dish of butter beans, flavorful and brightened up with fresh herbs and lemon.
A braise is similar to a stew in using less liquid, and in this case a shorter cooking time. I use a simple trick to thicken this ember without adding flour or starch. I add the whole can of butter beans, not just the drained beans as is often used, but the beans and the liquid, which adds extra flavor and a slight thickening to the char.
Legume cooking water, or aquafaba, can be used in cooking (this is the liquid used to soak dried legumes, until recently it was not commonly consumed). Aquafaba is added when making hummus to loosen the mixture.
It can also be used as an egg substitute – use 3 tablespoons per egg – and it can even be mixed into meringue. There are plenty of recipes online for aquafaba meringue if you’re intrigued. For now, try adding it to this braise (I also add the whole can of beans when making a soup like minestrone) and see what you think.
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Braised white beans with fennel and chorizo
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Half a leek, sliced
1 medium fennel bulb (about 200g) or 2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 chorizo (about 120g) or 2-3 slices of bacon, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
400g butter beans (undrained – see note above)
1 cup (250 ml) tomato coulis
½ cup (125 ml) water or broth
Salt and cracked pepper
A squeezed lemon and wedges for serving
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Grated parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a shallow, wide-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add onion and leek and sauté for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the fennel/celery, chorizo/bacon and dried oregano, and continue to stir over the heat for 5 minutes until fragrant.
- Pour the entire can of butter beans with the passata and water. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to balance the flavors.
- Sprinkle generously with parsley and serve with lemon wedges and grated parmesan.
- Serve as a light lunch with sourdough bread to soak up the juices, or as a main course with pan-fried fish or chicken and a green salad.
Nicola Galloway is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and culinary tutor.