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Vegan MoFo day 23 - autumn equinox eats: borlotti beans on toast

Happy MoFo day 23! Panicky side note: I can't believe we're already staring down the barrel of MoFo being over! Only seven more days to go.

Autumn equinox eats is today largely made up of UK grown produce. I was intending to write a smug post saying 'look, I've made a recipe that's nice and everything's from England!' until I chucked a huge amount of red wine in it, and everything fell apart. Non-panicky side note: England does lots of nice white wine, particularly sparkling, but as far as I know, not much in the way of red. Anyone educate me otherwise?

So, given I've chucked my homegrown theme out of the window, the theme for autumn equinox eats is borlotti beans, or cranberry beans, depending on where you're from.

Normally, I get borlotti beans out of a can. They're not my favourite bean, by a long chalk. I always think they taste a little cardboardy. They're the guest you invite to the party to make up the numbers, not because you want to see them.

That's what I thought at least, until I tried fresh borlotti beans for the first time. After a week in the fridge, the bean pods had gone pretty grim - brown and mushy. I baulked at applying my hands to the rancid brown slime, but apparently, a rotten outside doesn't mean there's a bad inside. Having ferreted the beans out of their gruesome coats, I got a bowl of these pretty little things:

Having filled up a bowl with these little painted beads, I was at a loss to work out what to do with them.

Like any uninspired cook, I made beans on toast. The result was way better than I had any right to expect, and I finally understood why people made a fuss about beans - the insides were soft and creamy, a subtle foil to a substantial sauce.

Borlotti beans on toast

One brown onion
One rib of celery
One carrot
One red chilli
Two cloves of garlic
250g of fresh podded borlotti beans
Bay leaf
One spring of thyme
Handful of parsley
1tbsp of finely chopped rosemary
One tin of chopped tomatoes
Half the empty tomato tin of vegan red wine
One thick slice of bread
Olive oil for drizzling

How you do it
First, put the borlotti beans in boiling water with the thyme and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Set your timer for 15 minutes, and once it goes off, train the beans and remove the thyme and bay leaf. In the meantime, you can get on with cooking the veg. By the time your 15 minutes is up, your veg should be all cooking away nicely.
Heat some oil, finely chop the onion, and add to the heated oil, stirring occasionally.
Next, peel and dice the carrot into small dice. Add to the onion and stir.
Deseed the chilli, chop finely, and add to the veg. Stir a bit more.
Chop the celery, add to the other veg, and keep stirring.
Finely slice the garlic, add, and stir some more.
By this time, your borlotti have probably cooked, so drain them and set aside.
Keep stirring your veg for, say, another 10 minutes until softened a bit.
Add in the tinned tomatoes, chopped rosemary, red wine, and borlotti beans and leave to simmer down for a while.
I didn't really time how long it look - say 20 mins or so? - but you just want the sauce to thicken up nicely.
Once it has, toast your slice of bread, and chop your parsley.
Pile the beans on the toast, sprinkle the parsley on, and drizzle ample olive oil over the top. If you've got some sliced avocado, you can top it with that too.
You should have a truckload of beans left - you can use them as a side dish for marianated tofu, as a stew on their own, or freeze them in individual portions for later.

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  1. Those little toasts look SUPER good all piled up with that beany goodness. I actually really love borlotti beans. I love their fat, round shape. I know what you mean about them getting kinda grey, and then still being pleasantly surprised by how yummy they are. :)

  2. Oh such a shame the coats of the borlotti bean were brown, as they are glorious to look at too. I am growing some for the first time and hope to harvest them come this weekend, like you I have no idea what to do with them, beans on toast, albeit posh beans and toast sounds wonderful, but I am gong to give it some thought. I only have a small bowlful, but better than not having any at all. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm not a fan of tinned baked beans but I love these kind of home made beans on toast. Great way to use the beans.

  4. I was amazed the first time I had fresh borlotti beans too! So different to tinned! Your beans on toast sound great and perfect for autumn.

  5. I never have beans on toast unless it's something really special. Like, gourmet beans. These look ace!

  6. They are the prettiest beans at the party!

  7. I've always wanted to make my own baked beans, and these look fantastic! I also can't believe there are only 7 days to go - this month is flying by.

  8. Oh interesting! They are so pretty! I've never seen these beans before, I am going to have to keep a lookout.

  9. Those beans are truly beautiful! And the resulting toast looks truly mouthwatering!

  10. I now want beans on toast even though I've never had it before. That's beautiful. I've only had (what we call cranberry beans) borlotti beans once, but I quite liked them. It's possible that it's because someone else cooked for me :)

  11. Thank you for introducing me to a new bean!!!! I will be on the lookout for them!!!


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