It’s finally raining today. The weather has been mostly gorgeous for the past 2 weeks, but even I wished for some rain after reading that the farmers were suffering from a drought. I invited a friend for lunch today and made this dish for the starter. The bright golden, garlicky beans really bring a contrast to the grey and wet weather. The baby leeks I found at the farmer’s market yesterday were braised in wine and butter until the leeks were left with thick and silky sauce, then they were broiled under the grill for a bit because I like the taste of slightly browned leeks. You can leave the step out if you like but I recommend it.
Ps. My watercress and lentil salad made it to the Guardian Cook section. 🙂 Yay!
Saffron and garlic beans with braised baby leeks
Recipe Note: Go easy on the salt, as Parmasan rind gives enough saltiness to the beans. For vegans, leave out the cheese rind and substitute with 2 tsp of tomato paste instead for the umami flavour. Also, replace butter with olive oil when braising leeks.
Serves 3-4 as a starter or 2 as a main course
For the beans
150g dried white cannellini beans
1/2 medium onion, very finely chopped
1/2 celery, very finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 sprig rosemary (about 10 cm), leaves finely chopped
1/2 tsp loosely packed tsp saffron strands
20g rind of Parmagiano reggiano (leave out if you are vegan)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
A few grinds of pepper
For the leeks,
8 baby leeks or very thin leeks, white and light green part only
60ml dry vermouth or white wine
4 small sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp salt
20g hazelnuts, toasted, skin peeled, and chopped *
Fruity olive oil
1. Soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 8 hours. Rinse and drain.
2. Add the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the finely chopped onion, celery, and garlic with a pinch of salt. Sautee for 15 minutes until very soft Do not be tempted to increase the heat.
3. Add the saffron and rosemary. Sautee for 3 minutes.
4. Add the beans, water, and the rind of parmagiano reggiano. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, with the lid slightly ajar, for 45-90mins or until tender but not falling apart. The cooking time depends on the freshness of your beans, so check after 45 mins.
5. When the beans are almost done, take the lid off and increase the heat to medium-high. Evaporate most of the liquid until there is a thick broth left in the pan.
6. Take the Parmasan rind out. Add the lemon juice to heighten the flavour. Add more salt if needed.
7. For the leeks, Add all the ingredient in a medium sized frying pan. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 10 mins. At this point, preheat the grill in the oven.
8. Take the lid off and boil off almost all the liquid. Transfer the frying pan under the grill and grill for 10 mins, or until the leeks start to turn golden. Do not burn the leeks.
9. To serve, place some beans on a plate and leeks on top. Sprinkle the hazelnuts and drizzle with olive oil.
*To toast the hazelnuts; place the nuts in a frying pan over medium heat. Toast for 10 mins or so, occasionally shaking the pan. Immediately remove from heat and place them in a clean dishtowel. Enclose them and rub them vigorously against each other until the skins come off.
Hi guys! The sun is shining, there are no clouds to be seen, and it’s 18 degrees today! I’m making this a quick post so I can go out and soak up some sun and walk around in my ballerinas.
This substantial salad I just made for lunch can be served either on its own or as a starter. Watercress is rich in in vitamin C, K, and other nutrients, and its peppery taste makes a great food to awaken our sleepy bodies from winter and revive the taste buds. The citrus dressing gives zesty and sweet contrast to watercress and lentils. Go! Make this salad! xo-A.
Watercress and Lentil Salad with Citrus Dressing
*Note: If you live in an area where watercress is hard to come by, then substitute with rocket or other peppery leaves. For Leipzigers, I know it’s virtually impossible to get watercress here, but I finally found some at Macis Bioladen in the refrigerated section. Pricey, yes, but definitely worth it!
Slightly adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry
Serves 2 hungry people as a main dish, or 4 as a starter
For the lentils,
1 cup beluga lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
For the dressing,
Juice of 1 pink grapefruit (about 120ml)
Juice of 1/2 orange (about 60ml)
Zest of 1/2 orange
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
1/2 clove garlic, germ removed
80ml fruity olive oil
1 tsp salt
4-5 mint leaves, shredded
Slices of 1 avocado
1. First, cook the lentils. In a medium pan, combine the lentils, water, and salt. Bring to boil and simmer for 25-30 mins until the lentils are cooked but not mushy. It’s better for them to have a slight bite than to be falling apart, so check their doneness after 20 mins. When they are done, drain them well.
2. For the dressing, combine grapefruit juice, orange juice, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and turn the heat down to medium-high. Simmer for 5-10 mins, or until the juices are reduced by about half. Remove from the heat.
3. Combine the reduced juices, lemon juice, garlic, maple syrup, salt, and olive oil in an immersion blender. Blend for a minute or two until the dressing is well emulsified. Taste and check for balance of saltiness, sourness, and sweetness. One of these tastes should not dominate the other.
4. Toss the warm lentils with 3/4 of the dressing. Leave to cool on the counter for 30 mins- 1 hour. (this process will make the lentils soak up the dressing) When the lentils are no longer warm, toss gently with watercress and mint. Taste and see if the salad needs more dressing. Serve with slices of avocado.