This is probably a mix between a soup and a salad and I like it best when the beans and spinach are still warm. The tomatoes, onion and dressing must all be at room temperature.
Put the onion in a small bowl, cover with cold water and sprinkle with the salt. Leave for about 30 minutes or so. Rinse and drain well, squeezing out the excess water with your hands, and put the onion in a small serving dish. Put the tomatoes, parsley and lemons in separate dishes.
Meanwhile, rinse the beans and put them in a large saucepan. Cover generously with cold water and bring to the boil. Skim any scum from the surface with a slotted spoon. Drain the beans, return to the pan and add fresh water. Bring to the boil again, lower the heat slightly and cook, uncovered, for about 1–1½ hours or until the beans are soft but not mushy. If the water evaporates too quickly, add extra hot water while the beans are cooking — the water level should be just above the beans. Season with salt towards the end of the cooking time. Tear the spinach into bite-sized pieces and add it to the pan. Cook for another 3–5 minutes until the spinach is cooked.
Spoon the beans and spinach into individual bowls with a slotted spoon, adding a trickle of the cooking liquid too. Everyone can dress their own dish with a scattering of parsley, some tomato and onion, salt and pepper, an extra big splash of lemon juice and olive oil.
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