Spanish Paprika-baked White Beans with a Sourdough and Manchego Cheese Crust

A few years ago I stumbled upon an crumbling bar nestling amongst the sprawling tobacco fields that surround that architectural wonder of Granada in the south of Spain. The heat that day was suffocating and the aroma of tobacco leaves and the spicy earth was heady, almost too much to bear. Lured by the prospect of a cold beer and the chance of some shade, I was greeted by the bar’s leathery skinned owner who quietly placed a small plate of smokey white beans in front of me alongside which he placed a wooden bowl of rustic bread and a basket gnarled lemons. This recipe is inspired by that lunch and is an absolutely delightful dish for these cooler months served alongside a salad of crisp romaine leaves dressed with a zesty lemon vinaigrette. Here, I’ve also paired it with a platter of spicy stuffed peppers.

Paprika Beans

Ingredients

1 red onion, finely chopped
A splash of extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1-2 tsp of sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
400ml of passata
x2 400g of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (you can also use butter beans)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
15g parsley, finely chopped
4 slices of slightly stale artisan breadcrumbs (you can also use panko crumbs)
100g of Manchego cheese, finely grated

For the vinaigrette:
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp of unrefined golden caster sugar
Half tsp of Dijon mustard
4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to your taste

How I make it

Heat an oven to 180C.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a generous splash of olive oil. Add the onion, turn down the heat and fry until soft. Add the chopped garlic and the spices. Stir for a minute until they are cooked through.

Add the passata and leave to simmer for 10 minutes before adding the beans. Continue to simmer for a further five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs with the cheese and lemon zest and set aside.

Take the bean mixture off the heat, add half the lemon juice (or all of it if you fancy it) and a splash of water to loosen the mixture slightly, stir through the parsley and season well. Transfer the beans to an oven proof dish, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling around the edges.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes before serving.

Make the vinaigrette by gently combining all the ingredients with a hand whisk and seasoning to your taste. Spoon over your salad leaves and garnish with pul biber. Any remaining vinaigrette will keep in a lidded jar in the fridge for two days.

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