In the tinned versus dried beans debate, I go for the former to save time, but only when they are going to get a long cook with other ingredients – in a soup or stew, for example. But when flavour and texture are called for, I always go for dried. The key to success is in how you treat them. Much like you and I, every variety of bean has different needs: some require a little extra love, such as a good overnight soak, whereas others demand little more than a rinse and a quick cook. Prepared correctly, the result is a pot of beautifully cooked beans flavoured with your chosen aromatics and seasonings, making a wholesome yet frugal addition to any meal – minus, of course, the tin.
White bean mash with confit garlic aïoli (pictured above)
I use garlic-infused olive oil three times in this dish: first to flavour a basic bean mash, then to make a thick aïoli to go on top and finally in a layer of cooked beans to add textural interest. Omit the anchovies, if you like, to make it vegan. Serves six as a meze or side dish, or as a dip for flatbread.
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