Since we started using dried pulses for cooking the tins of butterbeans and chickpeas that are stockpiled in our cupboards have been all but forgotten about. However, leaving them go to waste clearly is not an option, so I shall be trying my hardest over the next few weeks to make use of them. This is my own recipe, though it should be mentioned that the café at which I work has served up butterbean gratin on a number of occasions. Despite the fact that this wasn’t a tried and tested recipe it was absolutely delicious. The tomato sauce was deep and rich in flavour, the butterbeans were tender and the breadcrumbs were browned to perfection. If you are in search of a delicious, light and healthy meal, look no further.
Having been out of the kitchen for so long, culinary inspiration has become a little hard to find. This must be because over the past few weeks, cooking has been right at the back of my mind, so bringing it back to the forefront has proved a little difficult. For example, dreaming up this dish took rather longer than expected, whereas before, such a recipe would have taken only moments to formulate. Perhaps my gastronomic hiatus has affected my mind a little. Then again, one could say that I’ve always been a little affected. However, only time will tell. For now, I insist you all enjoy this fantastically rustic gratin.
Butterbean and Leek Gratin
• 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 400g tin of butterbeans in water
• 1 large leek, sliced thickly into medallions
• 20g butter
• 150g brown or granary bread
• A handful of parmesan
• 2 tsp of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1. Fry the onions in a little oil until translucent. Add the garlic, followed by the tomatoes, salt pepper and balsamic vinegar. Cook for at least 30 minutes, allowing it to reduce slightly. Pre-heat the oven to 200C five minutes before the sauce is ready. Tip the tomatoes into an oven dish and mix in the butterbeans, make sure to rinse them first. Layer the slices of leek on top and put a small knob of butter atop each medallion. Pop it all in the oven for 10-15 minutes, allow the leeks plenty of time to cook through.
2. To make the breadcrumbs simply blitz the bread, parmesan and rosemary together in a food processor. Sprinkle this on top of the cooked leeks and grill until golden brown.
Cost: This really is a rustic and cheap dish, as one might expect. Indeed, the whole dish comes in at roughly £1.20. It’s in dishes like this that one can observe the benefits of using pulses for protein, rather than meat.