It is truly amazing what you can do with a couple of cans of beans. Their versatility was unveiled to me when I visited a friend who had just returned from a trip to Sardinia; she told me about a meal she had enjoyed in a simple taverna on the beach one summer’s evening. She wanted to recreate it in her kitchen back in London with me, so we did—and I have to thank her for this magic recipe.
Flageolet beans are a member of the haricot bean family; they are picked before the beans are ripe and retain their green color, and they are even more flavorful than a regular cannellini or haricot bean. You can buy them pre-cooked in cans in most grocery stores, or you can substitute with butter beans or any other white bean you like.
1 head radicchio
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 bunches red grapes, about 7 oz in total
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried thyme (or leaves from 3 sprigs thyme)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
2 – 14 oz cans flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 vegetable stock cube
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Make the tray bake: Halve head of radicchio, then cut each half into four sections. Trim base and a little of the white heart from each piece without letting sections fall apart. Place on baking sheet. Scatter fennel slices over top of radicchio, then add grape bunches to baking sheet. Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top, then scatter thyme leaves over as well. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until grape skins have split and radicchio and fennel are soft.
Make the bean puree: In the meantime, place all bean puree ingredients in blender or food processor with 2/3 cup boiling water and blend on high speed until smooth. Taste for seasoning.
To serve, place dollop of bean puree in center of each of 2 plates, then spoon baked vegetables over top. Drizzle balsamic juices from baking sheet over top of each plate and enjoy immediately.