White Beans with Clams

This is a very quick, cheat’s version of a popular Spanish dish called fabes con almejas. Instead of boiling my own beans, I chose Navarrico’s fantastically creamy large butter beans that come in a rich, silky gloop that shouldn’t be wasted. It’s a big jar – 700g, 500g drained weight – and is exactly what you need for a feast of a meal for two. The beans are heated up with a pinch of saffron and another of salt plus a good seasoning of freshly ground black pepper. Once the clams are thoroughly washed, any cracked shells discarded, they’re quickly boiled in white wine with a pinch of la chinata pimento (in the red tin) and a couple of shallots and garlic first softened in a glug of olive oil. Beans and clams and some of their liquid are mixed with a garnish of chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley, with crusty bread to mop up the juices. It’s a bit of a palaver digging clams out of the shells – you will need a discard bowl – but that’s a small price to pay for a dish that is simple to make, a joy to eat and a picture to look at. It is sure to become a favourite.

Serves 2, generously

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 20 min

1kg small clams

2 shallots

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp olive oil

100ml dry white wine

½ tsp pimento picante (smoked hot Spanish paprika)

700g jar Navarrico large butter beans

large pinch saffron threads

100ml chicken stock or water

25g coriander or flat leaf parsley

Wash the clams in several changes of water, agitating to knock dirt off the shells and encouraging any live, open clams to close. Discard broken shells and those that don’t close after a quick tap. Drain in a colander. Peel, halve and finely chop the shallots. Peel, chop and crush the garlic. Soften both gently in 2 tbsp olive oil in a spacious lidded pan. Add the white wine, paprika, simmer for 30 seconds, increase the heat and add the drained clams. Stir or shake the pan, cover and cook for 2-4 minutes, giving the pan the occasional shake, until all the clams have opened. Meanwhile, tip beans and their juices in a second spacious pan, adding saffron threads softened in 1 tbsp boiling water and chicken stock. Season lightly with salt, generously with pepper and simmer, stirring, until very hot, the juices slightly reduced. Scoop opened clams and half their cooking liquid into the beans. Chop coriander or parsley leaves, add most to the pot. Tip into a serving bowl, add remaining herbs and serve with crusty bread and butter.