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Cannellini Beans with Preserved Lemon & Chilli

July 10, 2022

This is the first recipe in Ottolenghi Test Kitchen and it’s also the first dish I made when I received the book as a gift. It remains in my top three favourites, along with Confit Tandoori Chickpeas and Nut and Chilli Brittle, a sweet treat.
These beans are easy to make and utterly scrumptious

Serves 4 as part of a spread
Cook time: 40 minutes


  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 mild red chillis, finely chopped incl. seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely crushed with a pestle & mortar. Easier to crush if you toast them first 😉
  • 3 preserved lemons (80g), inner parts discarded and skin finely sliced
  • 1½ tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary – OTK says to use 4 fresh rosemary sprigs but I find the tough leaves unpleasant to chew on – your choice
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 170 ml / cup olive oil
  • 2 tins cannellini beans – OTK uses butter beans. I sometimes mix it up with a tin each of cannellini and black beans. Go with your own preference!
  • 2 large vine tomatoes, roughly grated and skins discarded
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Put the first 8 ingredients and 1¼ teaspoons flaked salt into a medium sauté pan on a medium low heat and stir everything together. Heat gently for 25 minutes, or until very fragrant but not at all browned. If the oil gets too hot, turn the heat down to low. Stir in the beans then turn the heat up to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour (or not), or longer if time allows.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the grated tomato with teaspoon of flaked sea salt and a good grind of pepper.
  3. To serve, pour the bean mixture into a shallow bowl and spoon over the tomato, roughly mixing it in here and there.

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