Butterbean Purée with Onions and Garlic

People are often rather scornful about butterbeans but their name is apt, as they do have a truly buttery flavour. Their only fault is that they break up easily but this makes them particularly suitable for soups or purées. This is a good dish to serve with a salad or vegetables for a light meal.

Ingredients

  • 275 g/10 oz dried butterbeans
  • 1 good sprig fresh bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 75 g/3 oz butter, plus extra for dotting over the top
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 rounded tablespoons fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • black pepper

Method

Soak the butterbeans in cold water for 8 hours or overnight, then drain. Put them in a saucepan with the bay leaves and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil and boil briskly for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1-1½ hours, until very soft.

Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the onion. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Melt 25 g/1 oz of the butter with the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft and golden brown. Then stir in the caster sugar, remove from the heat and put on one side.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Drain the cooked butterbeans and put them into a food processor with the garlic and the remaining butter. Whizz thoroughly to a smooth purée and then season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in the fried onion with its butter and oil, then spoon the mixture into a shallow earthenware dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan cheese and spoon all over the top of the purée, dotting with small knobs of butter. Cook towards the top of the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top is speckled with brown.

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