Fried butterbeans with with feta, sorrel and sumac

8 Aug

Butterbeans with feta and sorrel

This butter bean salad recipe comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook Plenty. (Apparently, so many Londoners are cooking his food these days, that a columnist in the Financial Times recently suggested that “to ottolengh” should become a verb.)

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that make use of sorrel (and lovage for that matter – I have a entire bush of that stuff…) The combination of feta and sumac sounded intriguing as well.

So I had high hopes when I embarked on this dish. I diligently soaked my beans with baking soda overnight, then rinsed and set them to boil the following morning. I’m not sure if the baking soda was to blame, but the beans got soft very quickly. By the first time I checked, half of them were already  too mushy to use in the salad. (I kept those aside and made an impromptu butterbean and dill dip.)

Aside from that issue, it all went smoothly. The girls found it too hot, which was probably a consequence of me not scaling everything down properly once I lost half the beans.

Fried butter beans with feta, sumac and sorrel
(serves 4)

  • 450g dried butterbeans
  • 1 Tb baking soda
  • 60g butter
  • 4 Tb olive oil
  • 8 green onions, sliced lengthwise into long strips
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 red chillies, thinly sliced
  • 200g sorrel, cut into strips (or use spinach)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tsp suman
  • 150g feta, crumbled
  • chopped herbs to serve: dill, parsley, chervil etc
  1. Soak the beans overnight in twice their volume of water, to which the baking soda has been added.
  2. The following day, drain the beans, place in a large pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil and cook until just tender, then drain. (The time this takes depends on the freshness of the dried beans, so  check occasionally to make sure they aren’t getting too soft.)
  3. Now fry the butterbeans. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to do this in batches. Melt some of the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add a layer of beans and cook for a few minutes each side.
  4. Remove the beans to a bowl, add more butter and oil and fry another batch, until all the beans have been fried this way.
  5. When the final batch of beans is almost done, add the green onions, garlic, chillies and sorrel and sauté for about a minute.
  6. Return the rest of the beans to the pan, remove from the heat and season to taste. Allow the beans to cool.
  7. Arrange the beans in a serving bowl, drizzle the lemon juice on top, sprinkle with sumac, scatter with feta and fresh herbs and serve.


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