spinach and butterbean bruschetta


several months ago i saw a recipe in a magazine for a spinach and butterbean bruschetta. it looked fabulous in the photos and when i read through the recipe i was sold – this was something that i needed to try. i then forgot which magazine it was in and, given i usually have several piles of recipe cuttings lying around, tracking it down wasn’t easy.

however, i spent a couple of days over a long and wet weekend sorting through these recipes and filing them away and, as a result, i found the bruschetta recipe.

i made it for friends (it preceded my lentil and spinach lasagne) and it was fabulous! the depth of flavour reminded me of the bruschetta di cavolo nero, fagioli (black eye beans) con l’occio e por we had in siena last year and it is a much more interesting bruschetta than the tomato and basil version that is often people’s default choice.

i’m a big fan of bruschetta as a simple supper party starter/snack – if you are too, give this recipe a try. you won’t be disappointed.

spinach and butterbean bruschetta* (serves 4)

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 bay leaf, quartered

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced

2 cloves garlic, one sliced and one kept whole

½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, leaves only, roughly chopped

½ tablespoon fresh oregano or thyme, leaves only

1 x 215g tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus extra to taste

125g baby spinach leaves

4 large slices of sour dough bread

extra virgin olive oil

a handful of shaved or grated parmesan cheese

in a large frying pan sauce the onion and bay leaf in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the onion is soft and begins to caramelise. add the chilli, sliced garlic and herbs and cook for another minute, stirring often (the smell will be wonderful!). add the butterbeans, 120ml water and the soy sauce. bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

remove the bay leaf and smash the beans until about half are broken up – don’t make a smooth puree. taste and adjust seasoning with more soy sauce and black pepper of needed. mix in the spinach and stir until it has wilted. remove from the heat.

grill the bread on a griddle pan, having brushed each side with the remaining olive oil – don’t move it and you’ll get the smokey blackened stripes. or you can just toast it. rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove.

to serve, place a piece of bread on a plate and top with a serving of the bean stew. drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (or lemon oil if you have it) and top with a sprinkle of cheese.

variation: this is also delicious with fresh goats curd in place of the parmesan shavings.

* adapted from a mystery recipe!