borlotti beans with anchovy and rosemary dressing

this borlotti dish is based on another recipe from my new favourite cookery book, a change of appetite. it was prompted by seeing fresh borlotti beans in the local turkish supermarket – i love these beans with their brightly coloured  pink and white marbled pods. i also love their nutty flavour and creamy texture.

the thing that really appealed to me about this recipe was the dressing – an anchovy and rosemary dressing made of finely chopped rosemary leaves, mashed up anchovies plus lemon juice and olive oil. i chose a really grassy extra virgin olive oil and it worked so well with the other flavours, creating  dressing that has oodles of flavour and really complements the beans.

the original recipe calls for kale but i’ve not seen any yet, so i just used spinach. i also used ate the dish in a  slightly different way to that described - having eaten one portion as shown, my next step was to lightly mash some of the beans and then use this as a topping for bruschetta. garlic-rubbed toasted ciabatta topped with borlotti beans and spiach ina rosemary and anchovy dressing – heaven on a plate with flavours that pack a punch.

borlotti beans with anchovy and rosemary dressing* (serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side and even more if used as a bruschetta topping)

c400g cooked borlotti beans**

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

juice of ½ a lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper

c500g spinach leaves (chopped roughly or use baby spinach)

i red onion, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic

½ a red chilli, chopped (or ¼ a teaspoon dried chilli flakes)

for the dressing:

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

6 cured anchovies, drained of oil

juice of ½ a lemon (to taste)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

mix the cooked beans with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper – do this when your beans are warm so they absorb the flavours (if you’re using cold/tinned beans pour boiling water over them and leave to heat through for a few minutes before draining).

to make the dressing, pound the rosemary in a mortar then add the anchovies and pound to a smooth paste. add the olive oil and the slowly add the lemon juice, mixing and tasting as you go. season and set aside.

heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the onion and garlic until they have softened. add the chilli and cook for another minute. add the beans and spinach and cook until the beans are heated through and the spinach has wilted. remove from the heat, dress and serve with lemon wedges.

if you want to use this as a bruschetta topping, mash the beans a little when you add them to the pan, before you add the spinach leaves. pile this onto a piece of toasted ciabatta that has bene rubbed with garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil and lemon juice just before serving.

* based on a diana henry recipe

**if using fresh or dried borlotti beans, cook your them in a pan of boiling water, to which you’ve added  as many as possible of the following - couple of peeled cloves of garlic, a couple of parsley stalks, a chopped carrot, a bay leaf, half an onion, half a red chilli and a couple of chopped celery sticks, a few peppercorns. if using dried borlotti beans, soak them overnight in water and drain before cooking.