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Radicchio and red onions on white bean purée

Serves 6radicchio and red onion and white bean puree on a white ceramic dish.

It is truly amazing what you can do with a couple of cans of beans. Here they are transformed into a pretty classy dish (if you choose the right plate to serve it on, it even looks rather painterly). Bitter leaves, sweet onions, earthy beans, the different components work very well together.


Ingredients

For the bean puree

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 150ml (5fl oz) chicken stock or water
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • good squeeze of lemon

For the rest

  • 2 large heads of radicchio
  • 2 red onions, peeled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. For the bean purée, heat the regular olive oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion until it is soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, the beans, stock or water and seasoning. Cook over a medium heat for about four minutes.
  2. Process the beans and their cooking liquid in a blender or food processor with the extra virgin oil and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can set the purée aside to reheat later, or serve it at room temperature.
  3. Now for the rest. Halve each head of radicchio, then cut each half into four sections. Trim the base and a little of the white heart from each piece, without letting the sections fall apart. Halve the onions and trim the base of each. Cut each half lengthways into crescent moon-shaped wedges, about 2cm (¾in) wide at their thickest part. (Or just slice them horizontally, if you prefer.)
  4. Mix the regular olive oil, balsamic and seasoning together in a dish and put the onions and radicchio in it. Gently turn over to coat then leave for about 10 minutes.
  5. Heat a griddle pan until really hot and cook the onions quickly until well coloured on both sides. Reduce the heat to low and let the onions cook until they are soft, turning frequently.
  6. Meanwhile, spoon the bean purée into a serving dish, reheating it gently first if you want to.
  7. Increase the heat under the griddle pan and add the radicchio. Let it colour on each side – this will happen very quickly – and wilt. Put the radicchio and onions on top of the bean purée. Season and serve with a little extra virgin oil drizzled over the top.

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