News for nerds

A few years back, my husband Hugh and I planted some borlotti beans and, although they grew, we’ve never managed to produce any since. We baked our small yield – three whole handfuls! – as per a Skye Gyngell recipe with sage, garlic and tomatoes, and loved it so much that we’ve since made the same sort of thing in lots of different ways, but without the fresh beans. We’ve tried every type of tinned bean there is, and added wine and squash, which braises beautifully in the stock. Today’s dish is an approximation of the recipe now scratched up in the Sodha family recipe book.

Braised squash and borlotti beans with tomatoes and sage
This is best made in a dish in which everything fits snugly, which helps ensure you’ll get some lovely juices to dunk bread in. I used a 25cm x 35cm baking dish, which makes enough to serve two as a main course; to serve four, simply double the quantities below and spread them across two baking dishes. There are so few ingredients involved here, it’s well worth buying the best of each one you can afford – the best squash, tomatoes, olive oil, wine and beans …

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 15 min
Serves 2

1 x 400g tin borlotti beans in water, not drained
400g medium tomatoes, halved
600g butternut squash, seeds scooped out, the rest cut into 1½cm-wide, skin-on wedges
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1½ tsp fine sea salt
150ml good white wine
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
20 sage leaves

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Pour the beans and the water from the can into a 25cm x 35cm baking dish, add the tomatoes, squash, garlic, salt, wine, oil and sage, and mix gently with your hands, distributing the squash evenly throughout the mix and poking the beans under the liquid (otherwise they’re likely to explode while in the oven).

Bake for an hour, until the squash is almost falling apart and caramelised in places and any tomatoes on the top of the mix have roasted nicely; if need be, give it an extra 15 minutes or so.

Remove and serve straight from the baking dish with fresh bread to tear and dunk in the cooking juices.