These Slow-cooked Flat Beans with Tomato, Pancetta and Chilli are the first dish our cookery book reviewer Jack cooked when putting Letitia Clark’s Bitter Honey to the test. Although the book focuses on Sardinian recipes, Clark points out that similar recipes are cooked all over Italy, and across the Mediterranean region. Jack really enjoyed its gentle chilli spice and how the flat beans felt like thick noodles.
In Jack’s opinion, the pancetta is definitely the star of this dish, cutting through the acidic tomato sauce brilliantly. Although the recipe suggests that it’s optional, we recommend including it!
Sardinian Slow-cooked Flat Beans with Tomato, Pancetta and Chilli (Fagiolini Piatti in Umido con Pomodori, Pancetta e Peperoncino)
- 1 small white onion, sliced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1 bay leaf
- 50 g (1¾ oz) diced pancetta or guanciale, optional
- 500 g (1 lb 1½ oz) flat beans, topped, tailed and cut into 10 cm (4 in) lengths
- 500 g (1 lb 1½ oz) tinned or fresh chopped tomatoes
- sea salt
- basil leaves, to serve
In a frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, cook the onions in the olive oil with the chilli and bay leaf. Add the pancetta (if using). Continue to cook until just turning golden.
Add the beans to the pot and stir to coat them in the oil.
Next, add the tomatoes and turn the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 30–40 minutes, until the beans are soft and the tomatoes have formed a rich sauce. Season and serve, scattered with basil leaves.
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Bitter Honey by Letitia Clark is published by Hardie Grant. Recipe extracted with permission. Photography by Matt Russell.