There was a good frost down the bottom of the hill this morning, but in my high, north facing garden, even this time of year we are getting a little handful of tomatoes a day.
But this time of year it’s the tomatoes sun dried in the peak of summer that are the treasure. They go in pasta and gnocchi and minestrone and on pizza. A whole handful go into ragu or bean stew. They go on crackers with feta and in tapenade for spreading on toast. And I have to admit, I have been known to eat them straight from the jar.
The most valuable preserve on my shelf (well, maybe equal first with Preserved Lemons) and they cost me no fuel and very little work to make.
You Might Also Like:
OK, so I know somebody is going to protest about the inauthenticity of this. And the photo doesn’t help. Ful Medames is an Egyptian dish made with ful, which are fava beans or broad beans. I make a version with fresh broad beans often in late winter or spring when they are in season and it is much more photogenic. But the strong lemon/garlic/pepper kind of flavours of ful medames work with practically any kind of beans. I’ve made this often with dried purple king beans or rattlesnake beans, which yields a much nicer looking light pinky-brown bean dip. But this one is a real fusion – a middle Eastern dish using American black turtle beans.
I harvested the last of the turtle beans this week. They were pretty dry on the bush, but we had the wood stove going and it was real bean eating weather so rather than dry them all the way for storage, I cooked them straight away in my favourite bean dish of all. The flavours are amazing – a whole bowl of beans for dinner and you scrape the bottom of the bean bowl. On this occasion with sourdough flatbread with poppy seeds and crushed linseeds to scoop with.
- First soak and cook a cup of dried beans (or if you start with semi-dried beans like I did, a cup and a half). Bean Basics has the basic method for this. Soak them overnight or for a few hours, then pressure cook for 15 minutes or boil for about 45 minutes or cook them in a slow cooker for 5 or 6 hours. Reduce to half beans half water consistency. For this recipe, you want beans that are very soft.
- Fry a chopped onion gently in olive oil till soft.
- Crush or chop a whole corm of garlic (yes, lots!). Add to the onions.
- Crush or grind a whole dessertspoon of black pepper (yes, lots!) and add that too.
- Add salt to taste. Start with a scant half a teaspoon, but you will probably end up adding more.
- Add the beans. Simmer gently, stirring often, for about half an hour. The beans should break up but if you need to you can help them a bit with an eggbeater or a stick blender. You can make it into a smooth puree if you like - I like it better with some whole or mashed beans in it.
- Add a third of a cup of lemon juice. Taste and adjust the salt and lemon juice – you will probably add more of both.
Serve in bowls with pita bread or flatbread to dip.
You Might Also Like:
My son is here for the weekend with some of his friends, so I get to do my favourite thing in the world and feed a mob of young urbanites.
But they sleep in!
So while I’m waiting, I thought I might give you a preview.
First up, winter fruit – carambola, mandarins, grilled pink grapefruit, with yoghurt.
Then poached free range eggs on sourdough toast with lemony garlicy mushrooms with goats’ cheese. The mushrooms have been braised in garlic, butter and lemon juice, and I’ll pop these in the oven just as they come to wilt the spinach and melt in the cheese a little.
With a side of haloumi and winter tomatoes (which I’m very proud of at this time of year) on a bed of rocket. I’ll fry the haloumi in a little olive oil and dress with balsamic at the last minute.
With homegrown coffee and homemade sourdough with lime or kumquat marmalade.
There was mention of lemon butter last night so I’m thinking pancakes with lemon curd for tomorrow’s breakfast.
The wood stove is lit, the sun is shining, music on the record player, guests for breakfast – life is good.