I love this beany salad which I have adapted from a recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis.  We eat it lukewarm or at room temperature as the fancy takes us.  It’s also lovely made with butter beans.  The tomatoes are optional, some people prefer the dish without.  Boiling the beans with herbs and vegetables give the most amazing flavour to the finished dish.  But if you can’t be bothered, its still worth making – just omit the onion, celery, rosemary and extra sprig of sage.

As a main meal you could serve this with  a large leafy salad (or lightly steamed broccoli florets drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil) and maybe some quinoa (nice with basil pesto and a crushed clove of garlic stirred in while its still hot).

Feeds 4 as an accompaniment, 2 as a main course:

225g dried cannelini beans, soaked in filtered water overnight (or soak in boiling water for 1 hour)
Optinonal: 1 sprig rosemary (about the length of your hand), destalked, chopped fine
2-3 large sprigs sage (around the length of your hand also)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
2 celery stalks
3 large garlic cloves
5 tbsp virgin olive oil
3 fresh or tinned tomatoes, chopped (if you are a perfectionist you can skin them and remove the seeds too – I never bother)
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of Himalayan salt or Atlantic sea salt, not “table salt”

1. Cook the beans in plenty of water with a sprig each of rosemary and sage, the onion, celery and 1 clove of garlic until just about tender.  Reserving the cooking water, drain the beans and discard everything else.
2. Into a large heavy bottomed saucepan or frying pan on a gentle heat put your 1-2 remaining sprigs of sage, the 2 cloves of garlic and bash them about with a wooden spoon for a minute so they get a bit squashed.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cover with a lid (or a large plate) and cook a couple of minutes until the garlic has started to sizzle.
4. Add tomatoes, beans and a further 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Turn everything in the oil, then pour over enough of the bean stock to cover the base of the pan.  Cook until most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated.

Why this is good for you:
Extra virgin olive oil, especially raw, is a great source of vitamin E which is great for moisturising your whole body, controlling allergies and is anti-inflammatory.  Beans are a great high protein alternative to meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.  They contain magnesium which has a calming effect, as well as helping keep the skin clear by enhancing liver function. Herbs like sage and rosemary are antioxidant, anti-ageing and naturally anti-inflammatory.  They also encourage growth of friendly gut micro-organisms.

Table salt is an industrial product which contains added aluminium (dessicant) to stop it absorbing moisture.  This is toxic.  Himalayan salt is the cleanest salt and contains trace minerals.  Its “clean” because it came from ancient seas where plastics and other man made contaminants were not present.