Pasta And Beans With Rocket Salad


2 1/4 lb (1 kg) fresh or tinned borlotti beans
1 small green celery stalk
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 stock cubes
5 oz (150 g) thin egg noodles, broken into short lengths
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black peppercorns

for the salad:

approx. 8 oz (225 g) young, tender salad rocket
extra-virgin olive oil
wine vinegar
pili-pili hot relish (optional)
salt and pepper

serve with:

granary bread


1. If you are using fresh beans, place in a large saucepan and add sufficient water to come 2 in (5 cm) above them. Bring to the boil over a moderate heat and then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, then drain. Return the beans to the saucepan, add 3 1/2 pints (2 litres) water, the celery, onion and garlic and reheat to boiling.

2. Turn down the heat to very low and cover, leaving a gap for steam to escape and simmer very gently for about 3 hours, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. A

3. After 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 hours of this cooking time, add the stock cubes; if you prefer a very plain taste, just add a little salt and some freshly ground pepper. The beans should be meltingly tender but should not have started to disintegrate.

4. Remove and discard the celery stalk; ladle one third of the beans into a bowl, put the rest through the vegetable mill with a fine-gauge disc and return to the saucepan; add the reserved, whole beans and any liquid they have with them. This recipe can be prepared 24 hours in advance up to this point.

5. Shortly before serving, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta in it until only just tender.

6. Reheat the beans slowly over a low heat while the pasta is cooking; add the drained pasta and then stir in 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tbsp vinegar, a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

7. Mix 1 1/2 - 2 tsp of the pili-pili relish with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and stir into the beans and pasta mixture.

8. Ladle into individual soup bowls, drizzle a little more olive oil with the surface, finish with a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and serve, handing round the salad rocket and a small bowl of pili-pili sauce separately.

9. Serve with thick slices of granary bread.

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