I have very little time for the notion that some foods are ‘not for poorer people’ – it is a criticism I have come up against time and again, whether it is kale pesto irritating the commentariat at the Daily Mail, or a slosh of £2.50 table wine in a risotto, there is a frankly hideous misconception that good food is for the ‘deserving’, with the parameters of who deserves exactly what seemingly set by those who have never had a tenner in their pocket to last a week. Sometimes, when testing new recipes, I have a moment of hesitation, wondering how to frame it to reduce the petty background chatter around what I consider to be ‘food for everyone’. And then I carry on.
This was one such recipe. An unctuous and subtly powerful sauce reduced to a thick, provocative shroud for slow-cooked cannellini beans and a scant handful of pasta. It would sit proudly on any hifalutin restaurant menu, but its main ingredient is a tin of beans and a slug of vinegar. You can use wine or cider for the sauce; and only a few tablespoons of each. I make this for myself often, in varying guises; and once you have the knack for it, I’m sure you will too. And politics be damned; I want to live in a world where everyone should be able to put a beurre blanc on the table without hesitation.
Serves 2, from 38p each.
Cider is generally cheaper to buy in small amounts than wine – the one I have used here is a single bottle for 85p, but neither are completely essential if you can’t justify the cost. To make it gluten free, simply swap the pasta for your favourite gluten free brand. To make it vegan, use veg stock and a dairy-free spread.
(This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients.)
800ml vegetable or chicken stock, 3p
120g small pasta shapes, 7p
salt and pepper, to taste, <1p
For the beurre blanc
4-8 tbsp cider or white wine, 10-20p
4 tbsp light coloured vinegar, 3p
1 tbsp garlic puree or finely chopped garlic, 4p
25g butter, 14p, or cooking spread, 6p
Pop the beans into a large saucepan that will easily hold thrice their volume; for you will be adding pasta to this later. Cover with the stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes; the longer the cooking time, the softer and creamier the beans will be.
While the beans are cooking, make the beurre blanc in a separate small pan. Combine all of the ingredients and cook on a low–medium heat, for 15 minutes, to reduce the volume and combine the fat and acid together. You will need to keep an eye on this and stir it fairly continuously, as I have burned and lost many a beurre blanc sauce through a moment’s distraction. Turn off the beurre blanc and allow it to settle.
When the beans have cooked for 20 minutes, add the pasta. Cook the pasta for 10 minutes (pasta cooked in sauce always takes a little longer than the packet instructions specify). When the pasta is soft, combine with the beurre blanc sauce. Season generously with black pepper, and enjoy.
This is a brand new recipe from Tin Can Cook – 75 store cupboard recipes by Jack Monroe – which is available to purchase here and there is a fundraiser to donate it to foodbanks here.
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