Jane and I have been down at Whitstable at my sisters wedding bash. Laura and Paul were married on a beautiful beach in Cornwall, but this one was for all the family and other rabble! It was a wonderful time, a marquee in the back garden, bright sunshine all day and Jane and I cooked up a Italian feast; plenty of antipasti to start with salads, tarts, stews etc later on. We had a local band play a few tunes and then an impromptu talent contest from the semi-sozzled/ fully-sozzled revellers. Stand up comics, musicians and spoken word enthusiasts. It was a proper giggle.
A quick and easy breakfast/ brunch was in order the morning after. Something with a bit of substance. This is a nice change from your normal beans on toast! I love my beans and like to play with flavours in the morning, of course, sometimes a classic beans on toast is in order (you know the brand!) But homemade beans are so much tastier and better for us. They also only take a few minutes longer to prepare and combined with the herb oil and chillies, tickles the tastebuds nicely.
The pickled chillies are essential here, you can easily make your own or buy them in, you’ll find them easily in your local shops. I love the way Italians add cheeky chilli to things, just a tickle to get you interested. I am more of a unabashed chilli muncher and therefore eat a few whole with my brekkie. Probably not for everyone, but I learnt this trick in Mexico and it certainly cuts through the morning head mist.
After all the extravagance of wedding food, this was one of my favourite things to eat all weekend! So simple and tasty, I had to share it with you. Here we serve it with some smoked aubergine puree, which is not your normal breakfast fare, but as with all party menu’s, there were some brilliant leftovers to hoover up.
Use any greens here, spinach, kale etc…… They make all the difference for so many reasons.
I like to soak and cook dried beans. More flavour and better texture. But you can use two tins of beans if you like.
You will have a little basil oil left over, it seems wise to make a little more than needed. Cover it with cling film and it will keep well for a couple of days. The basil may discolour a little. You may like to blanch it for 30 seconds in boiling water to help to prevent this. But that seems like a lot of hassle in the morning (especially after a wedding party!)
BIG CONGRATS TO LAURA AND PAUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Bits – For 2 Healthy Appetites
480g cooked cannellini beans (2 tins or 250g dried beans – soaked overnight in plenty of cold water)
4 big handfuls of spinach/ kale leaves
2 teas dried oregano
2 teas paprika
3 tbs tomato puree
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
1-2 tbs fruity olive oil
1 handful sun dried tomatoes (roughly chopped) – Optional deliciousness
1 large handful basil leaves (very finely chopped)
1 large handful parsley (very finely chopped)
2 tbs lemon juice
1 large clove garlic (crushed)
75 ml olive oil
Large pinch sea salt
Sourdough Bread (for toast)
2 ripe tomatoes (chopped)
Pickled red chillies (as you like)
For the basil oil, stir all the ingredients together. You can also pop it all into a good blender if you don’t fancy all the fine chopping. Blitz until the herbs are broken down.
In a medium saucepan, on medium low heat, warm the beans, adding all the ingredients except the spinach leaves and olive oil. Stir regularly on a low simmer for about 7 minutes, take off the heat and stir in the spinach leaves and olive oil (for optional richness). Check the seasoning and then pop a lid on and get your toast and tomatoes ready.
Spoon the beans onto a plate with the toast, chillies and tomatoes. Drizzle liberally with your herb oil. Sit in the sun and dream of the Italian coastline and the aquamarine Med. If its a brunch time, a chilled glass of Prosecco is perfectly acceptable.
It has been shown that around the world, cultures who eat a good amount of beans live longer. There are of course other factors, but beans are just incredible for many reasons. Beans are very low GI, making them a brilliant way to fuel up for a day, slowly releasing energy throughout the day. Beans are of course full of fibre and certain chemicals which have a strong detoxifying effect on the body. Plus, they are absolutely packed with pure plant protein with non of the nasty additions you get with animal proteins. Beans may seems a little uninteresting to some, but they are really a magical wonder food!