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Bean Encounter

Jamie Oliver discovers how a simple white bean dish turns divine

My first thought when I saw these beans on a menu in Italy was “Beans on toast?” But then I tasted them. I felt pretty humbled that such a simple dish had been made to taste so gorgeous. Once you’ve learned how to season and cook them in the right way, you can apply the method to cannellini beans, lima beans, cranberry beans, haricots verts, lentils, even chickpeas. If you’ve grown your own beans, good on ya! Fresh ones will take about 45 minutes to cook, but you’re more likely to get dried beans as they’re cheap, and very reliable to cook. However, they will need soaking for at least 12 hours. Jamie Oliver, Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life, Hyperion/HarperCollins, $41.95, ISBN 978-1-4013-2242-7

Humble home-cooked beans

11 oz. (312 g) dried cranberry or cannellini beans, soaked in cold water
3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 spring of fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 stick of celery, trimmed
1 small potato, peeled and halved
2 cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
3 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 slices of sourdough brea

Drain your soaked beans, then give them a good wash. Place them in a deep pot and cover them with cold water. Throw in your garlic, herb sprigs, bay leaves, celery stick, potato and tomatoes. Place the beans on the heat and slowly bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer very gently for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on whether you are using fresh or dried, until soft and cooked nicely. Skim if necessary, topping with boiling water from the kettle if you need to. When the beans are cooked, drain them in a colander, reserving enough of the cooking water to cover them halfway up when put back in the pot. Remove the garlic, herbs, celery, potato and tomatoes from the beans. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and pinch the skin off the tomatoes. Put the garlic, tomatoes and potato onto a plate, mash them with a fork and stir back into the beans. Season well with salt and pepper, and pour in three generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil and a few splashes of vinegar. Stir in the parsley and serve on some toasted sourdough bread.

 


Wines to Match

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery 2007 Pinot Blanc Niagara Peninsula $17 This delicious young Pinot Blanc is packed with pleasing peach and melon fruit flavours enhanced by fresh acidity and a flinty mineral edge. It’s not too tart, not too light, not too flamboyant, which makes it a winning aperitif and food-friendly option.

Francis Ford Coppola Presents 2007 Bianco Pinot Grigio California $21.95 A dash of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc adds some complexity to the peach and grapefruit flavour profile of this easy-to-appreciate Californian white. liffordwineagency.com

Rosehall Run Vineyards 2006 Sullyzwicker Red Prince Edward County $15.95 (69625) This interesting house wine, produced with an unconventional blend of Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir, yields a medium-bodied red that works nicely with a variety of dishes because of its bright fruit and refreshing character.



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