At the moment when you might be scouring the back of your cupboards looking for a bit of inspiration among the dried beans and odd tins - herbs can be a great way to pep things up a bit.
Winter savory (satureja montana) is a good choice. It is a warm spicy herb traditionally used in bean dishes because of its flavour and digestive properties, not to mention its help with flatulence! It is also known as an aphrodisiac, which may or may not be useful if you are stuck at home with nothing to do.
Winter savory is a hardy perennial evergreen herb – it grows into a small compact bush around 30cm high. It loves a sunny spot –the warmer the sun, the better and more spicy the flavour.
- 250g butterbeans –dried, soaked overnight – but you can use tinned if you can get them.
- 2 carrots cut into big chunks
- 1 stick of celery cut into big chunks
- 1 chopped onion
- 1/4 tsp fennel seed crushed
- 400g fresh tomatoes (skins removed and sliced in half)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 slices smoked bacon (if wanted)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 dessert spoon of oil
- 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp Worcester sauce
- 1 tsp Colman's mustard
- 1 dessert spoon of maple syrup (or golden syrup)
- 1 dessert spoon of smoked paprika
- 1 dessert spoon of chopped winter savory leaves
- Drain and rinse the soaked butterbeans.
- Put them into a saucepan along with the carrot, celery, 1/2 of the chopped onion and 1 clove of garlic.
- Cover with about 8cm water and boil hard for 10 minutes, then reducing to a simmer for about 60 minutes or until beans are tender.
- Put the rest of the carrot, onion and garlic onto a tray with the fresh tomatoes, bacon, salt and pepper. Add oil and mix it all together before roasting in oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
- Liquidise the roasted ingredients with about 2 tablespoons water to make a paste. Add to boiled ingredients along with Worcester sauce, tinned tomatoes, Colman's mustard, syrup, smoked paprika and winter savoury leaves.
- Simmer for 20 mins in a saucepan (adding a drop more of water if necessary).
- At the end of cooking add another desert spoon of winter savory and chopped parsley.
- Serve with crusty bread.
You can use passata instead of the fresh tomatoes – just roast the veg. We only used fresh ones at the time as the local shop had empty shelves where the tomato products should have been.