Smooth, creamy, garlicky butter bean purée mingling with silky, smoky grilled peppers – add some savoury, toasty pine nuts, sweet and sour raisins, sharp capers, aromatic basil and the result is a taste of southern Europe, particularly Provence and the Languedoc or Italy, or Andalucía, bringing instantly to mind holidays in the sun, sparkling blue seas, hillsides covered in wild herbs, perhaps clamorous markets awash with fresh, flavour-packed produce....... What a wonderful image on a dark, dreary winter’s day!
And not only is this recipe utterly delicious, it will also provide you with plenty of Dynamic Ageing nutrients: garlic – powerfully antibacterial, protective of cardiovascular health and high blood pressure as well as the common cold, provides cancer support, regulates blood sugar levels, and its antioxidant properties may help combat dementia. Olive oil: impressively anti-inflammatory, Vitamins A and K, lowers blood pressure, enhances blood vessel health. Butter beans: packed with fibre along with folate, iron, zinc, magnesium and lots of antioxidant polyphenols; furthermore they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, lower cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar levels; they are also high in protein although they are not a complete protein so it is a good idea to combine them with other sources of protein such as nuts as in this recipe. Peppers: Vitamin C powerhouses, as well as Vitamins A and B6, potassium, iron and magnesium. Basil: Vitamins A, C and K, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. Wow!
If you are short on time or motivation, you can use grilled peppers from a jar although they do not quite deliver on smokiness and silkiness. And the whipped beans are just as good cold if you prefer, but remember to check the seasoning before serving as you may need to adjust it.
WHIPPED BUTTER BEANS WITH GRILLED PEPPER SALAD
Serves 2 as a lunch dish, 4 as part of a mezze or tapas type meal
For the butter beans:
3 x 400 g tins butter beans, drained and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, peeled
125 ml/1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
For the peppers:-
15 g raisins
1 large red pepper, about 200 g, grilled, stalk removed, deseeded and sliced into 1 cm wide strips
1 large yellow or orange pepper, about 200g, grilled, stalk removed, deseeded and sliced into 1 cm wide strips
45 ml/3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 ml/1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
15 g/2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
30 ml/2 tbsp shredded fresh basil leaves
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the raisins for the pepper salad in a cup or small bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them to plump up and soften for about 30 minutes.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the butter beans and bring them back to the boil. Drain well. Place them, along with the garlic, olive oil, 2 tbsp of lemon juice and some seasoning in a food processor and process until fairly smooth. You may need to add a bit of boiling water to enable the blades to turn efficiently.
Check the seasoning and the acidity, adding some more lemon juice if it needs sparkle. The whipped butter beans can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving in a glass or china bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Place the peppers in a bowl and add the oil, vinegar, garlic and some seasoning. Drain the raisins, squeeze them gently to get rid of any excess moisture, then stir them into the pepper mixture with the pine nuts and basil.
Spread the beans out in a wide, flat serving dish. Spoon over the pepper salad and all its juices and serve immediately.