Butter Bean Bruschetta

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Preparation info

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Call grilled bread ‘bruschetta’ and people feel excited about it, as if it was something sexy and fashionable, a Naomi Campbell among toasts. ‘You’re going to love this dish, it’s so Italian, so honest somehow. Shepherds adore to snack on it under the shadow of olive trees. Sit and eat with us.’ Pause. ‘Share.’

The crusty wheat flour peasant bread is held under one arm and sliced with a blade that unfolds from a bone handle, and then toasted over an open fire of vine trimmings. A clove of garlic is peeled with a deft movement of the fingers and rubbed against the toast, which is then drizzled generously with limpid extra-virgin oil. Plump butter beans are mounded on top with some shredded arugula. A bottle of ancient balsamic vinegar is upended over the bread, part stoppered by a work-calloused thumb which allows a few intensely flavoured drops to burnish the leaves, followed by a final fine spray of shining drops of the deep-green oil. Pure flake sea salt is sprinkled on top. Fine curls of Parmigiano Reggiano are scattered over. All that is needed is a glass of garnet-dark Barolo on the side to complement its simple integrity. There: bruschetta.

‘Hey, let’s eat. You want some toast with butter beans?’ The answer is not recorded.


  • 225 g/8 oz cooked dried butter beans
  • 2 tbsp Gremolata
  • 4 thick slices of good white bread (Wonderloaf will not hack it)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 arugula (rocket) leaves
  • 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 55-85 g/2-3 oz Parmesan cheese (to be cut from a whole piece)
  • 16 black olives salt and pepper



Warm the cooked beans in a pan, add the gremolata and toss to coat evenly.

Toast the bread and rub with a peeled garlic clove. Put on individual plates and drizzle with half the oil.

Dress the rocket with the remaining oil and the vinegar Season.

Spoon some beans over one half of each toast and arrange dressed rocket leaves on the other.

Use a potato peeler to shave curls from the Parmesan and scatter these over all. Place the olives fetchingly where you can.


Serve at once with a steady hand, so the topping does not fall off.

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