(V) indicates vegetarian recipes, and (VV) indicates vegan recipes.

Green beans and bean sprouts






Dried beans and lentils



See also SPANISH SPINACH AND CHICKPEAS on the Leaf Vegetables page.


Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670)


This is similar to the stewed beans often served in Greece.

150gr green beans, topped and tailed

200gr tin of Italian peeled plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 large teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt, pepper

Boil the beans for 5 minutes in salted water and drain. Put the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the beans and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes on a very low heat. If it gets too dry, add a little water; if it is too liquid, turn up the heat at the end (the beans should end up meltingly soft and coated with a thickish sauce).



This is a somewhat inauthentic version of a recipe that exists in different forms all over Spain.  It will do as either a first course or a small main course.

Podded young broad beans (frozen will do) – enough for 2

1 small onion, peeled and sliced

2 rashers streaky bacon, derinded and chopped

1 cooking chorizo, or Spanish blood sausage or butifarra sausage, cut into slices

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp dry sherry

olive oil, bay leaf, mint, salt and pepper

Gently cook the onion, sausage and bacon in a small saucepan  with some olive oil, until the onions are soft (about 5-10 minutes). Add the broad beans, garlic, sherry, a bay-leaf and some mint leaves, together with just enough water to cover the beans. Simmer uncovered until most of the water has mostly evaporated and the beans are done (about 20-25 minutes). Remove the bay-leaf and add salt and pepper to taste.

Broad beans in a Tunisian market




¼ lb/150gr streaky bacon, diced.

¾ lb/300gr beansprouts

ground-nut or sunflower oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

1 dessertsp dry sherry

Fry the bacon in oil until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper. Heat some oil in a wok or frying-pan, and cook the garlic in it briefly to flavour the oil. Discard the garlic and stir-fry the beansprouts in the oil until they are translucent – about 2 minutes. Add the dry sherry; let it sizzle a couple of seconds; sprinkle over the bacon and serve.




(V) MATTAR PANIR  (for 2)

8 oz/250gr panir or ricotta

8 oz/200gr peas (eg frozen petits pois)

150ml yoghurt

200-250gr tin Italian peeled plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 in/3 cm ginger root, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 onion, peeled and sliced

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1 teaspoon garam marsala

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 pinch sugar

light cooking oil, salt, coriander leaves

Heat some oil in a small saucepan and soften the onion without burning. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a few moments. Stir in the turmeric, coriander, chilli and garam marsala, and cook for another minute. Add the yoghurt, tomato, sugar and salt, and simmer gently, covered, for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the panir or ricotta into 1 in/2 cm cubes and fry in some oil until golden. Remove with a perforated spoon and leave to drain on greaseproof paper. Add the peas to the tomato mixture with a little water if too dry (the peas should be almost covered). Bring to a simmer, put the cubes of ricotta on top and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped fresh coriander if available.





Dried beans and lentils



80-100gr Puy lentils (or similar)

40-60gr watercress, large stalks removed

small handful of parsley, stalks removed

4-5 tbsp good olive oil

150gr green beans, round or flat

1 dessertsp tomato puree

garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, lemon juice

Cook the lentils in water with a bay-leaf, the tomato puree and 3 unpeeled cloves of garlic until just done. Drain and squeeze the cooked garlic flesh out of skin of the cloves into the lentils. Top and tail the beans and cut into short lengths. Cook in boiling salted water until done. Drain and add to the lentils. Process the watercress and parsley with the olive oil and half a clove of garlic, finely chopped. Stir this mixture into the lentils, with extra olive oil if necessary. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and serve luke-warm.




300-400gr butternut squash

3-4 tablespoons Puy lentils (or similar)

1 big clove garlic

½ teaspoon tomato puree

1 big handful of mint leaves (about a supermarket packet)

Olive oil, salt, pepper


Cut the skin off the butternut squash and remove seeds. Cut into large pieces – about 5cm. Lay out onto a small baking tray or oven-proof dish, add a little olive oil and turn the squash pieces in it so that they are well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in an oven pre-heated to 180°C/gas mark 4 until the squash is soft – about 40-50 minutes – turning half way through. Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a small squeeze of tomato puree and a whole garlic clove, unskinned. Bring slowly to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until soft. Drain the lentils and add a little salt to them. Extract the garlic clove and squeeze out the flesh. Process the mint leaves with the cooked garlic flesh,  4 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous tasting of salt and pepper (a spice grinder is good for this). Divide the lentils between two plates, lay the squash pieces on top and drizzle over the mint coulis.


BASIC DAHL (for 2)


100-200gr red lentils

Small knob of ginger, peeled and sliced

1 green chilli

½ teaspoon turmeric powder (or 1 teaspoon peeled and chopped fresh turmeric root)

1 small teaspoon cumin seeds

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

Light cooking oil, salt, pepper, chopped green coriander (optional).


Cook the lentils gently in 300-400ml water, together with the ginger, turmeric and whole chilli, until they have almost turned to a mush, adding a little more water during the cooking if necessary (the lentils should end up soupy, but without any water pooling on the surface). Remove the chilli and add salt and pepper. Fry the cumin in some oil until it goes brown. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more, so that it begins to go brown.  Stir the oil, cumin and garlic mixture into the lentils quickly, before the garlic burns. Serve with some chopped green coriander if desired.




This dish makes a good light vegetarian meal if followed by a salad

120gr/4 oz red lentils (masoor dhal)

1 smallish onion, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon garam marsala

3 cm/1 inch ginger root, peeled and roughly grated

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (or a large pinch of chilli powder)

200gr/8 oz tomatoes, peeled and chopped (tinned Italian ones are good for this dish)

approx. 300-400ml chicken or vegetable stock (made with a stock cube will do)

salt, cooking oil, chopped green coriander

Take a small saucepan, preferably non-stick, and soften the onions in some oil. Add the ground spices and cook for another minute or two. Then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further minute or two. Finally add the tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Stir in the lentils so that they are coated. Then cover generously with stock (or water). Simmer, covered, until the lentils are completely soft and have turned almost to a mush (about 20-25 minutes), stirring frequently and adding more liquid if necessary. Add salt to taste and sprinkle some chopped coriander over the top before serving.