Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tuna and cannellini beans with lemon and bay leaves

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have just bought a copy of Rick Stein's Seafood Odyssey, and am aiming to up my fish cookery as a result. I like Rick Stein's cooking, although I find his on-screen persona a little stiff at times (and if I ever see that awful woman he had on his Naples programme again I may have to shoot myself). Anyway, his personality works much better in writing, and some of the things which feel a bit forced on the TV are fine on the page. This recipe comes from one in his book, although I was in a rush this morning so had to make it with tinned tuna and a jar of beans, instead of using fresh fish and dried beans. The plus side was that it only took about 10 minutes from start to finish and still tasted great. I may make the proper version at some point, but I suspect that I have already classified this under "fast food" in my head.

150g tinned tuna
400g tin of cannellini beans
plenty of olive oil (about 5 fl oz)
6 bay leaves
1/4 lemon
2 leeks
4 cloves of garlic

  1. Peel and thinly slice the leeks and garlic, then add to a large heavy-based pan with the olive oil.
  2. Once the leeks have softened, add the bay leaves, fry for 30 seconds or so, add the drained beans and the salt. Squeeze the lemon juice over the beans, and add the squeezed lemon quarter to the pot, stir well, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tuna, stir to mix, heat through for a minute or two and serve.

Tinned delights
Our attitudes to tinned food are a bit mixed. When tins first appeared, they often contained luxury items (quail in aspic, and that kind of thing!). Now we tend to be a bit suspicious of them. They are deemed okay for some things - tomatoes, baked beans, chick peas - but dodgy for others. Perhaps inevitably, these attitudes vary quite a lot between the UK and Spain. In Spain, chick peas, and pulses generally, usually come in glass jars, while fresh tomatoes are always preferred to tinned.

Tuna is a case in point. I was brought up to view tinned tuna as scarcely better than cat food, but I have come to appreciate its convenience. (I am still not keen on it when it is added to tomato sauces and cooked, at which point it turns rather dry and loses all its appeal.) A couple of years ago my in-laws gave my parents some very good tinned bonito (a large member of the mackerel family). As far as I know it is still lurking at the bottom of their cupboard. I must dig it out next time I visit and see if I convince them of its virtues.

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