White Beans with Leeks

Beans are very underrated. They are cheap, really healthy, have a great texture, and soak up lots of yummy flavours. You can make them hot and spicy in a chilli or gentle and mellow in a soup. Despite their versatility, I have rarely used beans as a side dish.Now that spring is on it’s way and bikini season goes from being a faint memory to an approaching reality, I have started looking for healthier alternatives to starches in my meals without sacrificing any flavour. Substituting beans for potatoes was a natural choice. The high fibre, low carb content of beans as opposed to potatoes makes that intsy binsy bikini all the more feasible. Also, there is a bean equivalent to almost every potato dish. You can mash beans, cook them in stock, have them cold in a salad, or use them to fill out a stew.

This recipe is a great starting point for introducing your friends and family to bean-based sides. It is simple to make, pretty to look at, and very flavourful. I would suggest serving it with a nice fat, juicy steak, slow roast lamb, or anything cooked on the barbecue.

Serves 4

  • 2 leeks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cans white beans (I used one can butter beans and one can cannelloni for texture)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon (~2 tbsp)
  • handful basil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Rise and drain the beans.
  2. To prepare the leeks, cut off the dark green, fibrous part. Then, starting about 1cm away from the roots, slice the leeks in half the length of the leek. Rotate the leak 90 degrees and do it again. This should leave you with something resembling a cheese string. Next, rinse the leak under a running tap of cold water. Leeks grow in sand so they can be pretty dirty. Notice how easy it is to clean the leeks when they have been separated out a bit, but by keeping everything together at the root, you’re not dealing with thousands of sections of leek. Fling the leeks around a bit to remove all the excess water then pat them dry. Now that the leeks are clean, you can actually start cutting them! Set the leek down on a cutting board pushing each of the sections back together so it resembles a full leek. Slice the leeks until you reach the root (again, notice how easy it is when the leek is intact at the base). Discard the root.
  3. Finely dice the garlic.
  4. Heat the olive oil with the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Add the leeks and the garlic.
  6. Cook until the leeks have softened and the garlic is nice and fragrant. This usually takes me about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the beans.
  8. Pour the chicken stock over the beans.
  9. Leave to bubble for 10 minutes or so to allow the favours to infuse.
  10. While the flavours are melding, finely chop the basil.
  11. If necessary, boil off any excess liquid. Excess is any liquid that sloshes around when you move the frying pan.
  12. Remove the pan from the heat.
  13. Drizzle in the lemon juice and add the basil.
  14. Toss until everything is well combined.
  15. Sneak a quick taste, then season as necessary. I tend to be extra generous with pepper.
  16. Serve with slow roast lamb, a big juicy steak, or some shish kabobs.
  17. Enjoy :)
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