Breton beans

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A classic by any Polish standard but with a kale and egg twist from me. It has to be said, Breton beans is one of those dishes I keep for life emergencies. By that I mean when time seems to run away from us and I am left feeling like I am herding cats. And this month my “cat’s quota” seems to be particularly high with motherhood, family and work’s demands all piling up high…

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Yesterday seemed like the culmination of it all and whilst I was driving home from the office, all frazzled and tired, the question of dinner was playing on my mind together with everything else. But I had a plan – there was some ready made ravioli in the fridge and with scattering of few sweet peas, a drizzle of pesto and sprinkling of pine nuts, our dinner was going to be on the table in no time at all. All that great plan went out the window when I discovered that ravioli went out of date last week, there were no peas in the freezer and the pinenuts had been eaten by a certain teenager… With one look in my pantry cupboard and a quick shuffling of few cans I had decided to make Breton beans instead.

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This is a quick and delicious dish that can be pulled together with just a few of kitchen cupboard staples. Rich tomato sauce envelops beans with sweet paprika giving it that deep smokey flavour. Bacon lardons and Polish sausage add to the savoury taste and make this a substantial lunch or dinner. Heck – breakfast too. I like to add to it eggs that are poached directly in the tomato sauce as well as sprinkling of young kale, in abundance this time of the year. With some fresh crusty bread to mop up the juices, this is warming and comforting when your body needs it the most. Stash this recipe somewhere handy for when the flu season hits (!) And whether you stay authentic by adding the Polish sausage or not, this is versatile enough to be just great with some chorizo or without it too. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 250 grams of Polish sausage (you will probably find kabanosy in most of the supermarkets)
  • 150 grams of bacon lardons
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly (if available otherwise one extra can of chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp of sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp of mild chilli powder
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp of red wine vinegar
  • eggs (optional)
  • kale (optional)

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Add the bacon lardons to a large, deep frying pan and allow them to colour slightly before adding the onion. Continue to cook for few minutes until the onion starts to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring continuously.

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Now add the sausage (if using) and the grated carrot. Keep stirring as it cooks for couple more minutes. Now add the paprika, chilli powder and thyme as well as the stock. Bring to the boil before adding in the tomatoes. Cover and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. Now add the beans, give it a stir and let it cook for further 10 minutes or so.

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Whilst the beans are cooking, prepare the kale. I buy it young from the local farm shop and keep it in a vase like a bouquet of flowers. This means the kale is beautifully tender and all that it needs is a snip with sharp scissors directly into the cooking pan.

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Add the kale and cover the pan again so that it wilts in the heat. Remove the cover and check if it is just getting tender.

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Now break the eggs directly into the pan. Cover the pan again and leave it to cook for 3 minutes if you like your eggs runny. If not, cook it for 5 minutes in total upon which the eggs should be set and softly cooked through.

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Remove the lid and serve immediately. If you happen to have some crusty bread, serve it alongside in generous thick slices to mop up the last of the sauce. My overnight sourdough did the job beautifully.

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Enjoy the steaming bowl of goodness. And do go back for a second serving x

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