If time is very pressing, use canned flageolets, but rinse them thoroughly in a sieve under cold running water before heating gently in
Put the beans to soak overnight in cold water.
Next day, bring them to the boil in fresh water. Boil briskly for 10 minutes and throw this water away, too, unless you want to introduce a flatulent note into the proceedings.
Cover with fresh water, add the onion, chilli flakes and 4 peeled whole cloves of garlic. Bring back to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until done, when the beans will crush easily. Season towards the end of the cooking and throw away the onion and garlic but retain the cooking liquid.
Put the cooked beans in a food processor with the remaining raw garlic clove, chopped, and the spring onions. Blitz to a purée. Add spoonfuls of the cooking water to achieve this and finish with
Serve the purée warm, sprinkled with some chopped chives and with warm pitta breads in a basket on the table.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.