Thomasina Miers’ recipe for white beans with leeks and caper salsa | food

HAS bowl of warm white beans screams comfort to me. I start by gently poaching garlic in extra-virgin olive oil until it smells fragrant, then add the beans and whatever flavors I feel like – chilli, herbs, or something tangy, such as capers. What I eat with my beans depends on my mood: slow-cooked rabbit, spatchcocked chicken, a whole roast fish or griddled vegetables. The salsa here makes a gutsy, fiery dressing to accompany griddled leeks.

Creamy white beans with griddled leeks and a caper and mint salsa

Prep 15 mins
cooking 30 mins
serves 4

4 wide (or 6 medium) leekscleaned and cut in half across the middle
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
plus a little extra for brushing
4 garlic clovespeeled and sliced
2 x 400g tinbutter beansdrained and rinsed
1 red chilli
salt and pepper

For the salsa
½ red onionchopped
4 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 bunch mint
1 heaped tbsp capers
6 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil

Bring a deep pan of salted water to a boil and simmer the leek halves for three to four minutes, until tender to the core (use a sharp knife to check), but still holding their shape, so they’ll be able to weather the char-grill later. Remove and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, warm the oil in a medium pan over the lowest of heats, add the garlic, and cook gently, stirring often, for five to six minutes, until it just begins to color at the edges. Add the beans, a big splash of water and season to taste, then cook for five minutes, to warm through, lightly crushing a few beans against the side of the pan so they melt into the whole.

Start the sauce by tipping the onion into a medium bowl and stirring in the vinegar, then set aside to give the onion time to relax in the vinegar.

Heat a griddle pan on a high heat and, when it’s smoking hot, lay the chilli in one corner. Brush the cooked leeks with a little oil and grill them alongside the chilli, turning them over after two to three minutes, once nicely marked with char lines. When the leeks are cooked through and sufficiently charred, transfer to a plate and keep warm. Do not worry if some are falling apart – they will still be delicious. Keep going with the chilli until it is lightly charred all over and tender.

Cut the stem off the chilli, then roughly chop the flesh. Tear the mint leaves from their stems, put them on the board with the chilli and capers, and briskly chop the lot until the mint is in tiny pieces. Scrape into the onion bowl, season, then stir in the oil. Taste the relish and season with salt and more vinegar if needed. It should be fresh, sharp and bright with a little heat. (If you have a spare lemon or orange in the fruit bowl, you could add the zest.)

Heat the beans through and divide between warmed plates. Use flip flops to arrange the leeks on top, then spoon over the salsa and serve.

The simple flex

These beans work as a midweek meal in their own right, but they’d also be delicious as a side for a free-range pork or lamb chop.

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