It’s ‘back to school’ time and, although I haven’t been in education for (gulp) a number of years now, I always feel the kind of anticipation for the downwards turn towards the end of the year and all of the delights that brings (roasted meats, baked cheeses, more mulled alcoholic drinks than I can even comprehend at the minute (guess who has already started drafting Christmas party menu ideas?). We’re not quite there yet, however and so as we prepare to travel the long road into Autumn, I’m reminded to hang on to as many Summer flavours as I can, for as long as I can. I can think of no better meal to do this in than brunch and no better ingredient to use but my legume-y friends, chickpeas and broad beans.
Back in the day, CB and I used to pull this recipe out to satisfy brunch habit when we had a vegetarian guest but this dish is so tasty that any meat lover will turn to it time and again. The beans act as a hearty vehicle for some big flavours in the sauce (the lemon infused olive oil is a dream) and also in the accompanying pickle which pretty much has to be tasted to be believed.
Our little shoebox in (un)fashionable south London gets such beautiful sun in the mornings (and occasionally quite a bit too much of it; our thermostat is no stranger to the high thirties) and so with the windows thrown open as wide as they’ll reach and the radio on as high as we dare, we sit down to a very grown up brunch as we enjoy the last of the summer holidays.
Adapted from New Feast
365 calories per portion
2 tbsp olive oil
zest and juice of half a lemon
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 400g tin of chickpeas
1 300g tin of broad beans
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp chilli flakes (to taste but remember this isn’t supposed to blow your head off)
a very good grind of ground pepper
2 medium tomatoes, vine ripened if you can get hold of them, diced
a handful of parsley, roughly shredded
120g of feta, crumbled (reduced fat, if the fat content of the dish is starting to alarm you – full fat if you live life in the fast lane)
6 pickled green chillies, coarsely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/4 lemon (more or less to taste)
- Get the relish out of the way by mixing together all of the ingredients and putting it aside somewhere (not the fridge, the relish needs to be room temperature when added to the beans).
- For the beans, heat the oil with the lemon juice and zest in a saucepan for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the spring onions, the minced garlic and the salt and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes are so, until the onions are soft.
- Add the beans, chickpeas, cumin, chilli flakes and pepper and cook for a further five minutes. Poach your eggs at this point as you prefer to. As I’ve discussed in the past, this is something of a dark. Short of whipping up a quick sacrificial goat before brunch, your best bet of perfect poached eggs is to get yourself a set of these unless you’re an old hand at poaching.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and heat through. Taste the dish and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- Spoon the beans evenly between four bowls. Under no circumstances should you hold back any of the yummy lemon oil at the bottom. Add a poached egg on the top of each bowl and sprinkle the feta and parsley on top of each. Artfully decorate the dish with the pickled relish and then laugh heartily at yourself while you gobble the whole lot. If you’re very hungry, add a pitta.