Some things I have recently learnt:
- Summer is a great time not to wear pants and instead walk around the beach house all afternoon in your swimmers/oversized t-shirt. "I don't need to put on pants for this, do I?" is a helpful phrase to learn.
- Watermelon will always drip down your chin, even if you try your hardest to eat it neatly.
- Always make sure your food processor if properly locked before pouring in your painstakingly made soup, or it will spill out all over EVERYTHING and you wont be able to get the smell of ham stock out of your hair.
- Your boyfriend probably doesn't want to watch Downton Abbey, watch it with your sisters instead.
- Drinking lots of fresh coconut water (as in, out of a real coconut) will almost certainly transform me into Miranda Kerr... Any day now.
- If the puppy looks like he is hiccuping, QUICK! he is about to be sick on the carpet.
- Butter beans are waaaaaay nicer when they have been crisped up in a fry pan.
The recipes are hearty but also show a finely tuned delicacy and a focus on beautiful produce. After the food bomb that was the festive season (which detonated somewhere around my thighs), we needed a night of wholesome eating at least shouting distance away from the glazed ham, and boy did Plenty deliver the goods. I was thinking of you (as always), and thought you might appreciate this recipe, as it is January after all and everyone is full of good intentions this time of year.
The key to nicely crisp and golden butter beans is to fry them in batches, so you only end up with a single layer of beans, every one of them has to be touching the pan so they brown evenly. The second trick is to leave them the heck alone for a little while so they have time to caramelize. Also, try to choose a fennel bulb that has the green herby fronds still intact, they are wonderful sprinkled over the top and have a sweetly mild flavour.
Fried Butter Beans with Fennel, Feta and Sumac
Adapted from Yottam Ottolenghi's Plenty
Serves 4-6 as a side serving
A good glug of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cans butter beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bulb of fennel, very thinly sliced, reserve the fronds for garnish
1 large red chili, diced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
100g feta cheese
2 tsp sumac
Heat olive oil and butter together in a large non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat.
Add garlic, onion and butter beans to the pan and toss to combine (do this in batches if necessary so you have just one even layer of beans). Arrange beans in a single layer in pan for 3-5 minutes until they are golden-brown underneath. Add the sliced fennel on top of the beans, they will steam while the beans brown.
Once you have a nice crust, season with salt and pepper and flip the beans around in the pan using a large spatula so you can brown the other side. Don't worry if this is a bit rough, as long as you have a good browning on one side it'll be good. Leave for another 3 minutes to crisp up further. Add the chili and lemon juice and toss to combine.
Move beans to a serving plate, crumble over the feta cheese, and sprinkle over the sumac. Garnish with fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil.