Lamb and white beans are often served together in French country cooking because they complement each other so well. In this recipe, the white beans are mixed with potatoes and green beans and the dish is deliciously flavoured with lemon, garlic and rosemary. Serve in true French style, with a crusty baguette.
1¼ cups (250g) dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
1kg boneless lean leg of lamb, trimmed of all excess fat
pepper to taste
4 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
½ lemon, thinly sliced
3 tsp olive oil
700g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm cubes
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, diced
⅓ cup (20g) chopped fresh parsley
500g green beans
⅓ cup (80ml) dry red wine
300ml salt-reduced beef stock
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Drain and rinse the cannellini beans, then place them in a large saucepan and pour over enough cold water to come up to about twice the depth of the beans. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum, then reduce the heat to low and add 2 of the garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Cover the pan again and cook for about1 ¼ hours or until tender.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Untie the lamb if necessary, season the inside with pepper and sprinkle over the leaves from half of the rosemary sprigs. Place the lemon slices down the middle, then roll up the meat and tie it with string at 2.5cm intervals. Rub the outside of the joint with 1 tsp of the oil and season with pepper to taste. Cut the remaining garlic cloves into slivers. With the tip of a knife, cut slits in the lamb and insert the garlic slivers and the remaining rosemary, broken into little sprigs.
Set the lamb, rounded-side up, on a wire rack in a shallow roasting tin. Roast for about 50 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
About 30 minutes before the lamb is ready, cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 10 minutes or until just tender, then drain well. When the lamb is done, transfer it to a carving board, cover with foil and keep warm. Drain off any fat from the roasting tin.
Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the tomatoes and cook for 3–4 minutes. Drain the cooked beans and discard the bay leaf. Add the beans to the shallot and tomato mixture, then add the parsley. Cover and cook for a further 3–4 minutes, then gently stir in the potatoes. Season to taste and keep warm over a low heat.
Put the green beans in a saucepan and barely cover with boiling water. Cook over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and keep warm.
To make the gravy, place the roasting tin on top of the stove and pour in the wine and stock. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the tin to mix in any cooking residue, then boil for 1 minute. Keep hot over a low heat.
Carve the lamb. Put the bean and potato mixture on a warmed serving platter and arrange the slices of lamb on top. Serve the gravy in a sauce boat and the green beans separately.
Beans are an excellent source of protein and soluble fibre. Unfortunately they can produce side effects such as wind and bloating. To prevent this, cook dried beans thoroughly or rinse canned ones before using them.