Beans are used in a number of ways in Italy and I have taken inspiration from the flavours of Mediterranean when creating this recipe. It is hearty enough to serve on its own with crusty bread but it is also an excellent accompaniment to fish.
250 grams dried small lima beans or 2 x 450 grams tin of any white beans, drained (save the liquid) and rinsed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and finely chopped
200 grams onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 x 400 grams tin of Italian tomatoes
2 large silverbeet leaves, rib and stalk removed and cut finely
Salt to taste
If using dried lima beans, you need to soak them overnight or a minimum of 8 hours. Rinse well and pressure cook them with half a teaspoon salt. Alternatively, you can get them up to the boil in a deep saucepan with 4 cups water and let simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. Once cooked set aside.
In a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the fennel, onion, garlic, red chilli flakes and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables have softened, about 15 minutes.
Cut the tomatoes and stir them into the pan along with the beans. You may need to add half a cup of water. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, for ten minutes. Mix in the silverbeet leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer beans to individual serving bowls, then drizzle with the remaining olive oil. You can use lemon infused olive oil or just a very herbaceous olive oil if you have. Serves 6.
Cook’s notes: I served mine with moki pan fried with butter. Dust moki pieces with seasoned flour and fry two to three minutes on each side depending on the thickness of your fillets.