There is something effortless about composing a dish from ingredients you have grown yourself. Everything seems to sing harmoniously on the plate; the flavours of each season naturally complement each other in a way that it could take a lifetime to learn.
This dish of borlotti beans, combined with red peppers is inspired by French country cooking and, in particular, the tradition of cooking from the potager, a garden that delights both the eye and the stomach.
1kg of borlotti beans (try beans harvested this season or older dried beans soaked overnight)
2 red peppers
1 red onion (finely chopped)
1 white onion
1 stick of celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 bouquet garni of sage and rosemary, bay leaf
1tbsp red wine vinegar
Char the peppers over a gas flame (or roast in the oven) place in a bowl, cover and leave to soften then scrape off the skin and remove seeds and stem.
Cut into strips and marinade with two tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, the red onion and a little salt.
Meanwhile, shell the borlotti beans and place in a pot, cover with water, bring to the boil (skimming off any foam) then add the carrot (peeled), onion and celery, garlic and a bouquet garni of the sage, rosemary and bay.
Cook for 15 minutes then add three tablespoons of olive oil and cook for a further 15 minutes until beans are tender (longer for dried beans).
Drain the beans and toss with three tablespoons of olive oil and a handful of chopped basil.
Add the red pepper and shallot mixture and serve with a colourful gratin a for a taste of French country life without leaving home.
Words Jojo Tulloh