18 21 MAY 2020
Photography: David Griffen/Waitrose Weekend
3 ways with...
Whether dried or canned, haricot, cannellini
or butter, white beans are nutritious,
economical and very versatile. Yes, dried
beans need overnight soaking and then a
bit of cooking, but it’s not taxing work. Both
dried or canned offer texture and bulk when
required. Cooked down or crushed, they can
also thicken sauces and soups.
1 BACON & BEANS ON TOAST
Coarsely mashed white beans, mixed
with herbs, finely grated Italian cheese
and extra virgin olive oil, make a delicious
topping for toast. Alternatively, fry smoked
bacon or lardons with diced onion, then add
Worcestershire sauce, English mustard,
tomato purée, a touch of sugar and stock,
and some drained beans. Cook (braise, bake,
or simmer) until tender and the sauce has
thickened, then season and add maple syrup
to taste. Serve on thick, buttered toast.
2 CREAMY VEGAN PASTA
Vegan pasta sauces often rely on blended
nuts or starchy vegetables for creaminess.
But white beans can provide the same effect.
Fry sliced garlic gently in olive oil, add a sprig
of rosemary (bruise it between your fingers
first) and some canned white beans, including
the liquid. Simmer until piping hot then
remove the rosemary and mash or blend the
beans, oil and garlic thoroughly. Return to the
pan and add freshly cooked vegan pasta and
about a cup of the cooking water to the beans,
tossing until combined. Season and add lemon
juice. Fry roughly chopped walnuts in olive oil
until fragrant, remove from the heat and mix
with grated garlic, lemon zest and chopped
parsley. Spoon over the pasta and serve.
Serve this Greek dish at room temperature
as a dip with crudités, or hot in place of mash
with chicken, fish or barbecued meats. Warm
some milk with 2-3 cloves of garlic, some
bay leaves and lemon zest for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the bay, then blend drained white
beans with enough of the infused milk to make
a mash or purée, adding extra virgin olive oil
and lemon juice while the blender’s running
to achieve your preferred consistency. Season,
then warm through if needed before serving.
On the largest of the Channel Islands, farmers such as Nigel Holliday
are working hard to get this year’s crop of Jersey Royals to our shelves
potato picking instead. That’s helped us, and
it’s helped them too.
“We’ve had to put a lot of thought into
how we can get the harvest in and send it off
safely. We normally provide accommodation
for the pickers, so what we’ve done is to put
them into teams that live together and work
together, and we drive them to and from the
farms in minibuses. We organise their food
buying for them too, so they don’t need to
go out to the shops. We’ve adapted our kit
as well, so there are screens on the grading
tables, keeping people apart.
“Working out how to do all this put us a
little behind with our schedule, but we’re
back on track now, and the freight ferries
are leaving the island with our potatoes six
days a week, just as they do every year. At
the peak of the season, we can be harvesting
700 tonnes a day, and we aim to get every
one of them on the evening boat. New
potatoes taste best when they’re fresh, so
we want them to be in Waitrose depots by
the following morning.
“It’s taken a lot of effort, but we’re glad to
still be working and getting our potatoes out
to customers. They’re only available for a few
months a year, and we know they’re a treat
that people look forward to – this year,
I think people need that more than ever.”
Meet the producer
‘We aim to get every potato on the evening boat’
“Jersey Royals have been grown here on the
island for more than 140 years,” says potato
farmer Nigel Holliday (above). “We’re very
proud of our traditions and we still do a lot of
things just the way they’ve always been done.
This year, though, for obvious reasons, we’re
having to think about that, and do it a little
“Usually, we’d have a lot of people coming
to the island to help with the harvest, but
with all the disruption to flights, many of
them haven’t been able to get here. At the
same time, though, our hotels are empty, so
a lot of people who work in the hospitality
industry have been able to help with the