There are some dishes that encapsulate summer. With this dish, the fusion of flavours as soon as they hit the palate reminds us of summers’ past. We are transported to the heat of the Mediterranean, to the beauty and warmth of Spain or to glorious azure waters of Greece.
The two basic ingredients that form most Spanish dishes is a good quality olive oil and locally grown fat bulbs of garlic.
And this dish is no different. As part of the Eat Like a Local campaign, we thought this recipe would be a perfect way to bring some of Spain into your homes. And with Jenny Chandler leading our Spanish Cookery Class, you can have a deeper appreciation of Spanish cooking techniques and traditional flavours.
In this recipe, we pep up the butterbean with tangy peppers and garlic. Beans of all kinds are commonly used in many Spanish dishes. Sitting alongside slightly spicy partners, they take on a whole new flavour.
If you are not a fan of the butterbean, this recipe may change your mind. The right combination of ingredients means that there is no one overriding flavour. The soft starchiness of the butterbean is the back note of this dish, with the peppers and garlic hitting the high notes.
In this perfectly balanced dish, the pungent flavour of garlic is foiled by the smoothness of the butterbean. However, you may know them better as the lima bean. They can be consumed in their early stages of growth when they are light green in colour or as they are in the recipe, mature, white with a starchy flavour.
Canned butterbeans are ready to use, so no need to soak overnight or boil for hours on end. Simply drain the butterbean, giving them a quick dousing under cold water to remove any sediment and then simply use them in your dish.
Piquillo means little beak and these small, no-heat chillies are grown in Northern Spain. Sometimes picked and then roasted over an open fire, the skins are them peeled away to reveal beautiful red flesh that is then stuffed into jars or canned.
Spicy-sweet in flavour, they are the perfect bridge between the soft butterbean and pungent garlic.
In the UK, you can pick up Piquillo peppers in jars at most major supermarkets. You may also find that some health food shops and artisan food retailers stock pickled peppers of this kind. If you really can’t find Piquillo peppers, a good quality pickled red pepper product is a tasty alternative.
Balance the flavours
Herbs and seasoning are not to be held back in Spanish cooking. Parsley brings an earthy flavour to this dish, and the zest of lemon brings a sweeter note, perfect for balancing the peppers. And don’t forget, use the best olive oil you can!
Butterbean with Piquillo Peppers and Garlic
The gentle melding of soft butterbeans with the piquancy of Piquillo peppers and the heady scent of garlic are the three main ingredients in this sumptuous Spanish dish.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 400g tins butter beans
- 200 ml vegetable stock
- 12 piquillo peppers sliced roughly (approx 1 x small 200 g jar)
- 4 tbsp flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
Cook the onion in a small frying pan until softened and golden then add some garlic and stir.
Add the beans to the pan and cover with oil then add the stock.
Simmer the beans for around 5-15 minutes. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pan, you may need to add some more water.
Add the peppers, lemon juice and oil whilst the dish is hot. Season now too.
This easy to make stew-like dish can be served at room temperature, or as a warm accompaniment for a variety of dishes - try it alongside calamari or a saltier fish – as well as holding its own against meats of all kinds.