One ordinary can of beans.
It’s not exactly the most exciting, let alone foodie-approved ingredient. And yet, when used correctly, these dull-looking beans can taste bloody brilliant.
So forget about baked beans in tomato sauce! White beans can be so much more than the horror that is a full English breakfast (Apologies if I’m stepping on any British toes with this statement, but –come on!- it’s the truth).
Just be creative, think outside the box and add a large quantity of spices! The following two recipes are totally worth spilling the both figurative and literal beans about. They are both loaded with exotic, fragrant Middle Eastern spices and are dead simple to make. They are the ultimate proof that a can of beans – against all odds- can become quite the gourmet meal.
Saffron Parsnips with Moroccan-spiced beans
These saffron-scented parsnips not only look incredible, they also taste absolutely marvelous. These sweet jewels go perfectly with the spicy and aromatic bean mix!
Ingredients (serves 1):
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into strips
- Pinch of saffron threads
- Small can of white beans, drained
- Chili flakes
- ½ tsp nigella seeds
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp cumin )
- 2 dried dates
- 2 dried apricots
- 1 shallot, finely sliced
- Fresh coraiander
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and fry the parsnip strips for a couple of minutes. Season with salt, a pinch of chili flakes and add the saffron and turmeric. Add a splash of water and let it simmer on a low heat until the parsnips are lovely and soft and gorgeously yellow.
- In a different pan, heat some olive oil and add all the other spices and the shallot. Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the beans and dried fruits.
- Let it heat through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the spiced beans with the saffron parsnip and sprinkle a generous amount of coriander on top.
Aromatic Aubergine, Pepper and Feta Tart with Homemade Bessara
Bessara is traditional middle eastern dip similar to hummus but is made with white beans and is usually a bit runnier in consistency. However, since I wanted to spread a layer of this wonderful dip onto my puff pastry, I kept the consistency rather thick to avoid a soggy bottom. This harissa-flavoured bessara adds another tasty dimension to an already quite flavoursome tart. Trust me with this one, you would be a fool (moron! Idiot! Imbecile! Brainless guttersnipe! ) not to bake it!
- 1 aubergine, cut into large chunks
- 1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
- Handful of orange cherry tomatoes, halved
- 100gr feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nigella seeds
- Sheet of puff pastry
For the bessara:
- Can of white beans, drained
- Coriander stalks
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp harissa
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the aubergine and peppers. Add the spices and season with salt and pepper. Fry for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
- Make the bessara by blending all the ingredients together until you get a smooth paste.
- Roll out the puff pastry and spread a layer of bessara over the pastry. Top with the aromatic vegetables. Add some cherry tomatoes and crumble on some feta cheese.
- Fold over the sides of the puff pastry to create a nice “ruffled” edge.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Sprinkle on some fresh coriander.