Monthly Archives: September 2009

Meatballs in tomato sauce.

It’s been a while.

I’d almost forgotten how much I like meatballs cooked in thick, velvety tomato sauce and that when they are good and carefully made, they are surely one of the most gratifying of comfort foods.


Especially, when they are made in the morning from good freshly ground beef and then they have the rest of the day to go cold and hang around, wallowing and mellowing so the flavours settle and deepen before being gently reheated. Especially, when once the meatballs are warmed through you remove them from the sauce and set them aside on a warm plate while you stir some spaghetti into the sauce. Especially, when you serve up steaming bowls of spaghetti and tomato sauce with 3 meatballs balanced on top.

I didn’t grow up eating meatballs. We had savory mince made by my grandma Roddy which we ate in true Lancastrian style with buttery mashed potato on Tuesdays and the Bolognese sauce (we are talking England 1980 here) made by my Mum to top our spaghetti. Both were essentially deconstructed meatballs give or take an ingredient and delicious to boot……but they weren’t meatballs, our friends had fun little balls of mince…….this kind of thing can damage a child.

So deprived as a child and not bothered with much, nevermind meatballs, during in my wasteland years – a long, tedious and unhappy phase which had it spawned a blog, it could have been called ‘Rachel doesn’t eat much and when she does it’s faddy‘ – I came to Meatballs late.

Thankfully, probably because I was a late starter,  I managed to avoid encountering bad dry – mealy or worse greasy – slimy meatballs, thin sauces and general meatpatty nastiness which I have heard is dreadful and can put you off for life…..I do seem to remember something suspicious in the school canteen but I knew better than to look never mind taste – remember we are talking England circa 1980. My meatball initiation was a thankfully a good one, afterall I was in the safe hands of Elizabeth David and her recipe from Italian food.

Because of Elizabeth Davidthe woman who helped establish many of my better kitchen habits – my early meatball education was leaning heavily towards the Italian school of thought, the inclusion of parmesan, the flat leaved parsley. the flick of nutmeg…….. and then I came to live in Italy…..


……and I was given Vincenzo’s nonna Sara’s recipe, polpette al sugo or as she would say in Sicilian Purpette ca sarsa. In theory nonna Sara’s recipe is not actually so very different from the other 3 fine recipes I have come to trust. Her ingredients are almost the same, the ground beef well marbled with fat, the bread soaked in milk, the parmesan, the sauted onion, the parsley, the egg, the flick of nutmeg. Her measurements however, like so many recipes passed by word and observation not pen, are not as reassuring as the books. It’s the fact the recipe is soaked in family history, has been part of so many meals that makes it important. By following her recipe it I too feel part of the story, a story you can taste.

I’d also forgotten how nice they are to make, while the tomato sauce bubbles away on the hob in it’s gently reassuring away you can roll up your sleeves and get on with gentle kneading, mixing and moulding of the soft squishy mince mixture into pleasing little walnut sized balls.


About the sauce.

The tomato sauce for meatballs should be smooth, rich and thick so passata is a good base. You can buy it, you can pass tinned plum tomatoes juice and all through a food mill or kitchen aid to get a fine passata pulp, or best of all you can make your own passata from red, ripe, flavoursome fresh tomatoes.

As we have still got nice September tomatoes around here I made some. I do this by washing and cutting a couple of kilo’s of Roma tomatoes in half and then putting them cut side down in a heavy based pan with 2 teaspoons of salt. I cover the pan and put it over a low flame. After a couple of minutes when the tomatoes are just starting to soften I squash them with a wooden spoon to release some juices so they collapse and cook but don’t burn. I cover the pan again and leave them to cook away for about 20 minutes or until I have a pan of slushy, soft tomatoes.

tomatoes cooked down

Which I then pass through the foodmill which sifts out skins and seeds and other obstructions to a fine smooth passata.

Now the passata is going to cook with meatballs for about 30 minutes and some people think that is enough. I like to give it a head start. So once you have passed the tomatoes through the foodmill, back in the heavy pan warm  some olive oil and then add a couple of cloves of garlic you have squashed with the back of a knife. Once the garlic is soft but not brown add the passata, stir and raise the heat so it bubbles at a gentle simmer. Leave the pan for about 20 minutes, the passata reducing gently while you make the meatballs.

Hope that makes sense.

If not maybe the recipe with be clearer.

Anyway sorry I don’t have any photos of the spaghetti, that happened later in the day with Vincenzo’s parents. It was a nice evening, I kept thinking how lovely it is to have done everything in advance, the meatballs were cooked, I made some bread, the salad and grapes washed, all I needed to do was cook the pasta while I warmed the meatballs through and dressed the salad. It nearly wasn’t like that, I nearly panicked and cooked something else at the last minute thinking is wasn’t enough, I nearly launched into something complicated which could well have left me red faced and stressed in front of the cooker rather than enjoying an aperitivo and the fact I had already done the work.

It was a good dinner, a friend of mine once described meatballs as humble and homely which I think is a very good way to put it, it was an honest and humble dinner…. no….. supper sounds more appropriate, more frayed around the edges….. kitchen supper….now, does that sound nice or silly, maybe it’s confusing, suggesting we might have other kinds of supper in other rooms which we don’t.

These meatballs are also nice with rice…..

Meatballs in Tomato sauce

Inspired by Nonna Sara, Marcella Hazan, Nigella Lawson and Elizabeth David

Serves 4 abundantly which is the way I like it

for the meatballs

  • 2 slices of stale good quality white bread with crusts removed.
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 500g ground beef (chuck is very good)
  • 1 small mild white onion chopped very very finely
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
  • 3 heaped teaspoons of finely grated parmesan
  • 1 egg – lightly beaten
  • a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for cooking the onions
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for mixing in the meatballs
  • very fine, dry, plain breadcrumbs on a plate.
  • olive oil or vegetable oil for frying the meatballs

For the sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and still whole but gently squashed with the back of a knife
  • 2 400g tins of best quality plum tomatoes or a 800g of passata (or 800g of your own homemade passata)

Chop the onion for the meatballs very finely and saute it for about 10 minutes in 1 tbsp of olive oil until it is soft and floppy. Set it aside.

In a small bowl cover the stale bread with milk and leave for 10 minutes so the bread absorbs the milk.

Start with sauce. In a heavy based pan warm the 3 tbsps of olive oil with a couple of cloves of garlic you have squashed with the back of a knife. Once the garlic is soft but not brown add the passata, stir and raise the heat so it bubbles at a gentle simmer. Leave the pan for about 20 minutes, the passata reducing gently

Make the meatballs. Put the minced beef in a large bowl. The bread should have absorbed all the milk by now and seem quite cool so mash it to a pulp using a fork. Add the mushy bread, the sauted onion, the parsley the parmesan, the beaten egg, the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, the nutmeg and some salt and pepper to the beef. Gently knead the mixture without squeezing it until all the ingredients are combined.

Gently shape the mixture into walnut sized balls (about 2.5cm/1 in diameter) and then roll each one in the fine breadcrumbs and set aside on some grease proof paper.

Choose a large saute pan which can accomodate all the meatballs in a single layer and warm a good glug of olive or vegetable oil for frying (I reckon my glug was about 3 tbsps.) Raise the flame to medium high and slip in the meatballs. Brown them on all sides, turning them carefully so they don’t break.

Once the meatballs are browned lower the heat slightly and add the tomatoes to the pan, you can pick out the garlic at this point. Turn the meatballs once or twice to coat them with sauce and incorporate the meat juices from the bottom of the pan.

Cover the pan and cook at a gentle and quiet simmer for about 25 minutes.

Taste both meatballs and sauce then adjust the seasoning.

To serve with spaghetti.

for 4

Cook 400g of good quality spaghetti in a large pan of well salted, fast boiling water.

While the spaghetti is cooking, gently reheat the meatballs and sauce over a modest flame, nudging them around with a wooden spoon so they don’t burn. Using a slotted spoon remove the meatballs from the sauce and set them onto a warm plate and cover with foil. Drain the spaghetti reserving a little of the cooking water. Stir about 50ml of the pasta cooking water into the sauce to thin it a little and then add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss well.

Devide the spaghetti between 4 bowls and top each with 3 meatballs and a spoonful of the any sauce still clinging to pan.

Serve and bring the rest of the meatballs to the table so people can help them selves.


Filed under food, meat, recipes

Burrata for lunch.

When Vincenzo isn’t home for lunch and therefore pasta isn’t obligatory I will most likely have one of my solitary lunch favorites – of which there are about 7 – which I eat whilst doing the crossword.

This is one of them.


Two slices of lightly toasted pane di Lariano, a dollop of sun dried tomato paste and half a rotund ephemeral burrata dribbled with some extra virgin olive oil, this one is especially nice.

One eye on the crossword and one on my lunch I spread some tomato paste on a corner of bread before scooping and squashing a little of the creamy burrata on top. I eat and get frustrated at 7 down, 4 letters, clue – Jules Verne’s submarine captain………I spread a little more paste and nudge some more burrata onto the next section of bread…..I remember the answer, captain Nemo, I write it in. And so it goes, clue, bite, clue, bite. Finally I have a third slice of bread – not toasted so as to maintain full soaking capacity – to mop up the creamy oily juices.


For those of you who are not familiar with burrata, it is a speciality from the sturdy heel of Italy, Puglia . It was invented by farmers from the city of Andria in the early 20th century as a way to reclaim unused curds, the scraps, rags and offcuts from the mozzarella making process, it is made in much the same way as mozzarella.  Like mozzarella some burrata is made from bufala milk whilst some is made from the milk of razza poldolica cows which graze on fragrant herbs and grasses near Andria and Martina Franca in Puglia.

The stretched curd is made to form a little pouch which is then filled with strings and rags of mozzarella curd mixed with salted cream. The pouches are then knotted before being dipped in brine. Traditionally each burrata was wrapped in bright green lily leaves but today you are more likely to find them wrapped in white plastic with a green plastic leaf attached.

They are both funny and charming little parcels. I really should start giving them as presents…or…no….I mean people should really start giving me them as presents.


Unwrapped they are creamy white, as wrinkled as your finger tips after a long soak in the bath and this wonderful rotund shape with a top knot which reminds me of a sumo wrestler. Burrata are not as firm as mozzarella being filled with much creamy liquid deliciousness, holding one in your hand is a little like negotiating a handful of jelly or a balloon filled with water, handling burrata it isn’t something you can do with a straight face.


No neat slices here, tear the pouch with your fingertips and the creamy contents comes tumbling out, a whoosh as a mass of stringy curds bathed in cream floods your plate. It feels primitive. So does the eating of burrata, it doesn’t really beg delicate civility, you need to spoon, scoop, squash, mop, push the soft flesh of the pouch and the unruly, long, cream soaked curds into somekind of order.

Back to lunch.


The tomato paste by the way was just some of the sun dried tomatoes we bought in Sicily which I stuffed in a jar and then covered with extra virgin olive oil for a month or so. I just tipped the whole contents of the jar – oil and all – in the blender and pulsed a few times for a rough and tumble paste which is also really good for a quick quick supper.

So no recipe but you get the idea I hope.

I finished the crossword by the way and for the first time in ages felt quite content, burrata will do that to you.


Filed under cheese, food, Rachel's Diary

Italian plum and almond cake


My copy of David Tanis’s ‘A platter of figs’ falls open in the most familiar way at page 171………there is even a faint, careless, circular coffee cup stain. Two clues which suggest I have made it dozens of times…….I haven’t….. I have just looked at page 171 rather alot.

Having said that…. it is a little strange. I have faithfully smoothed and stared at other pages, pored over various pictures with equal intensity. The page in question is not the middle of the book, the binding doesn’t seem to favour it and whats more, it is a volume fat with bookmarks – 4 posit’s, 1 postcard, a recipe I ripped out of the newspaper and a depressing bank statement – and it still falls open at page 171.

Anyway, I decided to take it as a sign, a message, maybe from the author himself.

I just needed to wait for Plum time…..


…. which has arrived.

Nice plums have been around at the market since late July but apart from some tiny greengagelike delights which took me by surprise one-day, I didn’t buy any – being too preoccupied with cherries and then the peaches, nectarines and apricots before they disappeared for another year – Plums can wait I thought.

Until now that is, September, when are at their best, their sweet, juicy but robust flesh and dusty mellow colours fitting and right for these still warm but unmistakably autumnal days. We ate the first plums straight, they deserved it. Blue, black, oval ones called Stanley or Italian plums, golden globes called la giocca d’oro (golden drop) some flushed with scarlet and pale greeny yellow ones known here as regina claudia.

Then I flopped the book open and finally made the cake.

plum cake

It is a delight of a cake. Stanley, drops of gold and Queen Claudia Plums (David Tanis recommends you use all Stanley plums) baked in batter of ground almonds, sugar, eggs, melted butter, milk and just a little flour.  It is dense and compact. It is most certainly a cake but inside the texture is reminiscent of clafoutis or pancakes. This is because the generous quantity of plums studding the batter bake and collapse in the oven, becoming soft and jammy thus keeping the batter surrounding them moist and dense, slightly fudgy and almondy. Each slice is a delight as you meet pools of soft, baked plums. For this reason it is best served warm or within a few hours of baking.

A little after I took this photo the light faded alongwith the possibility of decent photos, rest assured we had two slices each and then Vincenzo shaved off about 3 more slivers. We thought about some ice-cream, or creme fraiche on top, but that would have meant leaving the house and neither of us wanted either badly enough to do that.  I will however get ice-cream, maybe almond, for next Thursday when I make it again for supper with some friends I know will appreciate a slice or two of warm plum and almond cake for pudding.

Now I used a smaller, deeper tin than recommended which meant longer in the oven was needed, with a little tin foil hat for some of the time to stop the top burning, it did work, but I will be interested to see what happens with a wider tin. Maybe the depth of my tin was also the reason all the plum slices drowned and sank in the batter rather than providing a pretty pattern on the top. Actually I didn’t mind them drowning and the lack of pretty patterns and perfect execution, it made the whole thing kind of rustic and easy which is how I like my food really.


Just for the record my tin was 8″ across and I only used 700g of plums (it was looking very full) and I left it in the oven for 50 minutes with the tin foil hat to stop the top burning for the final 15 minutes. I have however given you the original page 171 recipe because it is David Tanis and it feels right, I am sure you will play around and experiment accordingly if you feel need, after all, I think we might all be making this quite alot.

Italian plum cake

Adapted From David Tanis’s ‘A platter of figs

  • 100g / 1 cup ground almonds
  • 100g /1/2 cup of fine sugar plus 50g/ 1/4 cup of sugar for topping
  • 75g / 1/3 cup of all – purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 4 tbsp of melted butter
  • 900g Italian/ stanley plums, pitted and sliced thickly

Set the oven to 180°/ 350F and butter a 10 inch tart dish or springform pan.

Mix the ground almonds, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl.

Beat the eggs with the milk and then stir in the melted butter and then add to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon and them whisk with a balloon whisk until the batter is smooth and silky.

Pour and scrape the batter into the pan. Arrange the plum slices on top in a circular pattern (!!!). sprinkle the extra 1/4 cup of sugar over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer pushed into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Best served warm or within a few hours of baking.


Filed under cakes and baking, food, fruit, recipes, Uncategorized

Fusilli pasta with zucchini and butter.

fussili with courgette table

There is something playful and delightful about fusilli pasta, it’s short twisted spirals. After all, they are just a little bit silli, as in silly – the gentle, amusing, childlike kind of silly, the nicest kind of silly. Fusilli make me smile in the same way as those pink and white twisty marshmallows, corkscrew aniseed sweets, a helter skelter at the funfair or that slinky coil that you push down the stairs.


We haven’t had fusilli in the cupboard for a while – we have been rather serious with our linguine lately which I blame on the return to work  – so when I saw a recipe for these happy twirls I went to the market to buy three packets. Not to eat all at once you understand, that would be greedy and we  are never greedy!.

This is another of the perfectly simple, honest plates of pasta the Italians excel at, nothing fancy, nothing clever, just a plate of deeply flavoured, simple and nourishing food, everyday food, that I am happy to eat….well….everyday. It is as simple as fusilli is twisty.Just pasta with zucchini (courgettes) which have been cooked slowly in butter and their own juices until they are soft and creamy – dare I say a little mushy – maybe you can add a few torn basil leaves and most certainly lots of parmesan.


You need really good, fresh zucchini, with which I am having a serious fling at present, slim, pale green ones with their delicate, tender, flowers which you should really fry in a light batter and have as an antipasti…..I didn’t, I really thought about it, especially after this but in the end I didn’t.

courgettes in bag

You chop the zucchini into rounds the size of a thick coin, like a £1, which is not very helpful if you are not English, you get the idea I hope. Now here is the nice bit, you fry the rounds gently in a little oil with a couple of cloves of garlic you have crushed with the back of a knife. Then, when that are just turning very pale golden, you add a big knob of butter to the pan, some salt and a little water and then let the zucchini bubble and braise in the buttery juices for about 15 minutes until they are soft, creamy and starting to disintegrate in the nicest possible way. Now you add more butter before you toss the zucchini with the pasta – you have been cooking – along with a ladleful of the water you cooked the pasta in to loosen everything up. You add basil if you so wish, at the last minute so it wilts gently. You finish it all with parmesan freshly grated from a big hunk.


Then you eat.

Zucchini cooked in this way are a revelation, soft, sweet and creamy enough to coat the pasta and convince you that you never want to eat al dente zucchini again.

Of course you could use just about any shape of pasta for this; long, short, fat, thin, curls or butterflies. Fusilli is particualry good though.

The original recipe was inspired by lunch at a trattoria called Lo Scoglio a small seaside town not far from Positano in Italy and recreated at the River cafe and then included in a nice series on Italian food in the reliable Guardian newspaper.

On a practical note, the original recipe suggests 120g of butter, this is an awful alot, even for a  butter lover like me. Having made this half a dozen times now we have settled on 60 – 75g you may like a little more or a little less.

Fusilli pasta with zucchini and butter.

Adapted From the River cafe via the Guardian

serves 4

  • 350g zucchini
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed with the back of a knife
  • 60 – 75g soft butter (depending on how much you like butter)
  • 420g fusilli
  • a dozen basil leaves torn into pieces (optional)
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan

Wash and dry the zucchini, then cut them into 1cm thick discs. Pat the discs dry.

Warm the oil in a frying pan which is large enough to accomodate all the discs in a single layer. Add the garlic to the oil and then, once the garlic is soft, add the zucchini. Season with coarse salt and stir until the zucchini are just beginning to turn golden brown

Add half the butter, stir and reduce the heat. Continue cooking, adding ladleful  of water to loosen the bits stuck to the pan. Stir and scrape until the zucchini are soft, creamy and starting to fall apart, which takes about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter.

While the zucchini are simmering away cook the fusilli in boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Stir this into the zucchini to loosen the sauce.

Add the fusilli to the sauce, add the ripped basil leaves if you wish and toss very well. Serve with the grated parmesan.


Filed under food, pasta and rice, recipes, vegetables

Slow roasted tomatoes

Are very nice indeed.

Red, ripe, sweetly fruity but nicely acidic small plum tomatoes, cut in two, sprinkled with salt, doused in extra virgin olive oil and roasted slowly, slowly….until they are withered and wrinkled, curly at the edges and sticky with intense tomato goodness.

See… I knew withered and wrinkled could be beautiful, when I get old I want to be a slow roasted tomato…

toms roasted 3

Yes, a slow roasted tomato squashed on some toasted bread which has been rubbed with garlic… with a bit more olive oil over the top for good measure.

After a meltingly hot August when just the mere thought of cranking up the oven  brought me out in a sweat, September breezes and pleasing showers means some low, slow roasting is possible. Good job too, the end of the tray of plum tomatoes was starting to look a little withered, neglected and in need of attention.

tray of toms

Attention they got, a good wash, a chop and a new coat of salt and olive oil and a long lazy 3 hour lounge in the oven at about 100°c/220F….

I know some people like to roast their tomatoes for hours, 5, 6, 8 even, this is good but different and I find such lengths leave the tomatoes rather too wrinkled and dehydrated for my liking, dried rather than roasted really. Once, I did leave a batch in for hours, they emerged with a not unpleasant, but rather challenging leathery chewyness which made me realise how much I like softness and creamyness of lesser roasted red thing, a thing with mashing and squashing qualities.

roast toms 1

At a very nice supper recently our friend roasted up a tray of these. No fancy plating or arranging was necessary (is it ever ?) she just brought the whole oven tray to the table along with some toasted bread, a peeled clove of garlic for each and everyone, a bottle of excellent olive oil and a jug of basil still on the stem. Thus followed a clattering of forks and hands as we all banged elbows and rubbed our toast with garlic, picked our roasted tomatoes straight from the tin, mashed them into the bread with the backs of our forks, ripped our basil leaves, poured our oil and constructed our own bruschetta. Some wise ones then mopped up the sticky juices from the bottom of the tin with more toast.

Still in squashing mode, a few roasted tomatoes with some goats cheese is good, on warm toast or in a sandwich,…..

Or they are nice in a salad, one with bitter leaves and some hot strips of bacon…….. or as dots of colour in a simple green one with parmesan…… if you squeeze the flesh out of the skin and mash it roughly with some more olive oil and ripped basil leaves you have a good and simple pasta sauce

……and I like them beside some toast, 2 fried eggs and a fat sausage for a kind of English breakfast, best eaten with the newspaper before you and a very strong cup of English breakfast tea beside you on Sunday at about 11.

roast toms 2

Slow roasted tomatoes

I do think plum tomatoes are better here as they have a sweet (but not too sweet)  mellow fruitiness which is balanced by a good acidity.

  • 30 small plum or cherry tomatoes
  • coarse sea salt such as Maldon
  • extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 100°C/220F

Wash, dry and cut each tomato in half and place them cut edge up on a baking tray.

Sprinkle with coarse salt you have rubbed between you fingertips.

Pour a thin stream of olive oil over the tomatoes making sure you coat (but don’t flood) each one, they tray and tomatoes should glisten with the oil not swim around in it.

Put on the middle shelf of the oven for 3 to 3 and a half hours.

Check, the tomatoes should be nearly half their original size, slightly wrinkled and curling up at the edges but still soft and moist in the center – taste one to see.

Best served at room temperature, will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days but remember to take them out of the fridge before you want to eat them as fridge cold kills the lovely flavours.


Filed under food, recipes, Uncategorized, vegetables

A nice little plateful.

I made this last weekend.

Cannellini beans, grilled courgettes, tomatoes with a very very green basil dressing.

It was very nice.


Is is such a good combination of flavours and textures, the meaty, nutty beans with strips of sweet slightly charred courgette, tiny, red, flavorsome plum tomatoes and loads of extremely green basil dressing, best eaten with a fork in one hand and a hunk of good bread in the other with a scoop and mop attitude.


I would happily open a tin of beans for something like this but last weekend, in a moment of unusual organisation, I remembered to soak some. Now, there is something pleasing about a bowl of beans soaking, they not only look kind of pretty and faintly amusing as they swell up and shrivel a bit, but they are also full of promise and potential. I always feel a wave of satisfaction when I remember to soak beans – I don’t know why really, it is hardly and impressive or creative task, it took all of….umm….20 seconds….. silly really.

Anyway, just as satisfying, is grilling the courgettes, the searing heat of the pan doing all sorts of tasty things to the soft flesh, charring, making their flavour more intense.


So you have soaked, cooked the beans and grilled your courgettes.. you halve some tiny tomatoes, cut the courgettes into strips and toss everything together with a basil dressing which is nothing more than a clove of garlic, a massive handful of fresh basil leaves, a pinch of salt wizzed in the blender with loads of your nicest olive oil.


I made this last saturday, so that was the 30th of August…… anyway, the exact date isn’t really important, what is important is that our platefuls tasted just right, seasonal and appropriate for these last, still very warm last days of summer and just a litle hearty, like the autumn days to come.


Grilled courgette, tomato and cannellini bean salad with basil dressing.

From the Riverford farm cookbook

serves 4

  • 200g dried cannellini or haricot beans soaked overnight in cold water
  • bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 courgettes cut into ribbons 5mm thick
  • 12 cherry or small plum tomatoes
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • A bunch of basil
  • a clove of garlic, crushed
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt

Put the drained beans in large pan with the bay leaf, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a an hour or two, until tender. Drain, season to taste and dress wth 2 tbsp of olive oil.

Rub the courgette ribbons with the rest of the rest of the olive oil and then grill on a ridged pan until tender and charred. Cut each ribbon in two lenghways.

Halve the tomatoes.

Make the dressing; Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and wizz until smooth.

In a large bowl. gently mix the cougette strips, tomatoes and beans together with enough dressing to coat all the ingredients nicely.

Eat with nice fresh bread.


Filed under Beans and pulses, food, recipes, salads