Beans and, more generally, legumes are fast becoming my favourite source of protein. This is not because I find them more interesting or more flavoursome than meat, but because they are both frugal and rest considerably lighter on one’s stomach. As you will know, meat is a lot harder to digest and I prefer not to have to do it too frequently. Having said that and at the risk of rescinding my own financial and biological high ground, it is rather difficult to opt for legumes over a well-cooked cut of meat – that may be the problem. Perhaps I ought to round out this paragraph by reiterating a point which I frequently make; one needn’t indulge in meat every day of one’s existence.
This casserole is, as you can see, a very simple dish which allows the sumptuous flavour of the beans to shine through. Of course, one could opt to add a little extra spice to the dish and create a bean curry of sorts, but that would perhaps steal the spotlight from the legumes somewhat unfairly. Instead, the cumin and tomatoes after being cooked for an hour or so provide a great body upon which to showcase the beans, this is then finished off nicely with just a hint of fragrance from the coriander… plenty of coriander.
You know, the Olympics aren’t at all conducive to food blogging or life in general. How can one possibly expect to get anything meaningful done when there is myriad different sport to be feasted upon every waking hour of the day? As it happens, this post took an awful lot longer to prepare than it should have; the sole reason for this being Federer’s stunning semi-final against Del Potro. Still, at least Britain are doing rather well, though not as well as the USA – somewhat unsurprisingly. Oh well, I suppose there’s nothing for it but to get clever with my cooking in order to do both at once – this dish, for instance, is both delicious and exceedingly low maintenance. As such, it is well worth an hour or so of anyone’s time in my opinion, humble though it is.
Spiced Bean Casserole
• 100g dried butterbeans
• 100g dried borlotti beans, any other small brown bean would do
• 2 tins of peeled plum tomatoes
• 1 heaped tsp of ground cumin
• 1 onion, finely diced
• 1 red bell pepper, finely sliced
• 1 green bell pepper, finely sliced
• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
• 2 fresh red chillies
• A whole bunch of fresh coriander
• Salt and pepper
• Olive oil
1. First of all one will need to soak the beans overnight and then boil them alongside the main dish for around an hour. Don’t forget to rinse them before and after cooking.
2. Heat up a generous glug of oil in a large pan and gently fry the cumin before tossing in the onion and cooking for a few minutes. Add the garlic and the peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes. Tip in the tomatoes and the whole chillies. Pop the lid on and cook reasonably gently for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and reduce for the last 15 minutes.
3. Once the beans are soft add them to the pot along with the finely chopped stalks of coriander. Serve with yoghurt and more fresh coriander leaf.
Cost: Let’s face it; beans are extremely inexpensive, particularly if they have been rehydrated. Nothing about this dish strikes me as at all expensive and it shows. The entire pot can be prepared for as little as £1.70. Not an unreasonable price to pay for something so delicious and healthy, I think you’ll agree?