I want to talk to you a little bit about beans today and I'm talking particularly about canned beans like borlotti, cannellini and pinto beans, all of those beans that we can buy both dried and canned, but particularly canned because they're quick, easy and delicious and very nutritious.

Now I adore beans but I haven't always done so. When I was younger I didn't like them but I think it was because I wasn't really exposed to them. They weren't something that my mother cooked and I certainly didn't have them at other people's houses so it's pretty hard to get used to something or know whether or not you like it until you experience it. But as I've gotten older and certainly as I've become more conscious of the variety of food available, beans have become a very big part of my diet and I eat them quite regularly.

Now I do cook dried beans and I'll make my own version of baked beans which is very, very simple and easy but I actually use canned beans quite a lot and I have them in place of potatoes or rice and I buy a lot of different varieties but I have my favourites, borlotti beans and cannellini beans because they're relatively neutral in flavour so you can mix them with just about any herb or spice and you can mix and serve them with any protein as well, and I particularly like lentils, even though they're not a bean they also go really, really well with quite a lot of different proteins.

So here's what I do very simply and easily when I want to have beans and I don't want to go to too much preparation. One of my most favourite quick, simple meals is a whole bunch of fresh quickly cooked greens like broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, string beans, and most of the time I just prepare those, rinse them, pop them into a container and into the microwave for 60 seconds, no more because I like them really, really crisp. I also want them to retain all of those nutrients as well so the least amount of cooking the better but we want to break that cellulose that's in them just a little bit more down so 60 seconds in the microwave works perfectly. I don't actually put any water with them, just the water that's on them from washing them is more than enough.

And then I will pan fry a piece of protein. Now that protein could be a fillet of fish or salmon, it might be a lamb backstrap, a couple of little lamb loin chops which are gorgeous, a piece of pork fillet, or even a nice steak and I'll panfry that in a nice hot pan with the tiniest little bit of an oil spray or maybe just spray the protein itself and then into the pan, either side for a few minutes depending on the type of protein and how you like it cooked.

Then once the protein is done I take that out and wrap it in a little bit of alfoil and allow it to rest for a few minutes, and while that's resting I turn on the microwave for the 60 seconds for my vegetables to be cooked then I rinse the beans or lentils completely then pop them into that hot pan with no extra oil or fat. There's enough in there to cook the beans to the amount that I'm going to want them cooked.

So what you do is just toss them in for around about the 60 seconds. In fact it's not much longer than the time that those vegetables will cook in the microwave and then I just drizzle over the top of them a little bit of truffle oil, just enough to give them a little bit of flavour towards the end of that 60 second cooking time. They brown up just ever so slightly. Now plate it all up by placing the beans or lentils on the plate first, the put your protein on top of that and usually I slice that up if it's steak or chicken so it's easier to serve and then add my greens to the side of it. Very, very quick, very simple, really, really good for you and you have a very quick, simple and absolutely delicious meal.

Two things to remember:

  • The first one is to make sure that you rinse the beans to get rid of the liquid that they tend to sit in because it does tend to be quite mushy. If you don't do that you will end up with baked beans as opposed to stir fried, pan-fried beans and
  • Secondly buy a really good quality truffle oil. Now true truffle oil is not made from truffles interestingly enough because there isn't any oil in truffles but it is an infused olive oil so make sure it's a really good quality olive oil and you can either make your own or you can buy one from a gourmet deli but the tiniest little bit, we're talking a few drops in there, you don't need very much at all, it's quite strong but it does give a very distinctive flavour.

And you can also add some fresh herbs to the beans if you want. Depending on what type of meat or protein you're using then choose a fresh herb that will blend with that so for example if you're serving up lamb then I would put rosemary in there, some lovely fresh, chopped rosemary. If I was serving any seafood I might go for dill, coriander or parsley, but any fresh herbs will work perfectly with beans and you can use any of the beans that you like.

So for those of you who love your beans then get hold of the canned beans, and preferably buy organic because then you know there's no herbicides and pesticides and all of those other nasties we don't particularly like to eat and I can guarantee you a meal like that you can serve up to absolutely anyone as a guest or you can just have it to enjoy yourself with a nice glass of wine. Happy cooking, I'll see you again next time.