Tomato and borlotti bean stew

Good GOD its hot. I love the sunshine and the warmth, but as we enter week four of the UK heatwave London is hot, sticky and smells like horrid things in bins. I’ve barely cooked a thing as it has just been too hot and all I want to eat is salad, ice lollies and ice cold rose – technically a drink but you get the idea.

This dish does require a little bit of cooking but it is delicious and light, perfect for a sticky day. Plus it makes the most of flavourful summer tomatoes which are in season at the moment and the shining star of this dish. I am not historically a fan of tomatoes, especially raw, but the good ones you can get at the moment have been starting to change my mind!

This dish is a little bit inspired by Spanish tapas favourite pan con tomate but with an Italian accent through the borlotti beans, basil, lemon and lashings of olive oil.

This would be a lovely light vegetarian lunch or dinner on its own, or as an accompaniment to  barbequed meats or sausages. You could also top this with some feta or goats cheese, and use white beans or chickpeas as an alternative. I’d recommend a glass of white wine to accompany, because that is always a good thing.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

Cooking time: 30 mins


  • 2 small shallots, finely sliced

  • 1 large/ 2 small cloves garlic, crushed

  • 400g tinned, drained borlotti beans

  • 750g good quality ripe tomatoes

  • Good quality olive oil

  • Zest of ½ lemon

  • 1 small bunch basil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large slice sourdough or brown crusty bread


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C, and put a deep pan of water on to boil

  2. Roughly tear the bread into bite sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast in the oven until lightly golden & crispy at the edges (5-10 mins)

  3. Gently fry the sliced shallot in olive oil over a low heat in a large frying pan until translucent but not browned then add garlic, cook 1 minute and then leave off the heat while you prep the tomatoes

  4. Once the water is boiling, get a bowl of ice cold water ready. One at a time, dunk the tomatoes in the hot water, leave in for 5-10 seconds depending on size, then immediately remove with a slotted spoon into the cold water, then peel off the skin. You can score a cross in the base to help get some leverage on the skin

  5. Quarter the skinned tomatoes, remove the seeds then chop them up – you can leave them quite chunky, I blitzed them in the Magimix to a rough paste with a slug of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt

  6. Add the tomatoes to the shallot & garlic mix in the frying pan – taste and add a pinch of sugar if it needs some more sweetness. Mix gently over a low heat to combine and warm gently, but don’t let it cook too much

  7. Add the beans and gently warm, stirring to combine

  8. Turn the heat off, scatter over the lemon zest, drizzle with as much olive oil as you like (its good for your heart and all that) and top with freshly torn basil & the toasted bread bits

Gemma Scott