Butter Beans and Spinach on Toast (3)

An easy and moreish supper from Nigel Slater.

Butter Beans and Spinach on Toast (3)
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Butter Beans and Spinach on Toast (3)
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Start with the pickled onion. Peel and thinly slice the red onion and put it in a non-reactive saucepan with the vinegar, water, whole peppercorns, salt and sugar.
  2. Bring to the boil, check that the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and set aside. Over the next half hour or so, the onion will become softer and less pungent, but retain a little of its original crispness.
  3. Peel and roughly chop the 2 onions, then put them into a deep saucepan with the olive oil and butter and place over a low to moderate heat. Let the onions cook, with the occasional stir, for a good 15-20 minutes until deep gold and translucent.
  4. Wash the spinach and remove any tough stalks. Put the still-wet leaves into a saucepan, place over a high heat and cover tightly with a lid.
  5. Leave the spinach to cook for a couple of minutes in its own steam, turn once or twice with tongs, then remove from the heat when the leaves are deep green and wilted. Tip into a colander and rinse under cold water, then squeeze out most of the water with your hands.
  6. Bring the milk, whole peppercorns and bay leaves to the boil in a small, deep saucepan, then set aside to infuse.
  7. Stir the flour into the softened onions, continue cooking for a minute or two, then stir in the milk, a ladle at a time, discarding the aromatics as you go. Stir the sauce to remove any lumps, then leave to simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes, continuing to stir from time to time.
  8. Crumble the cheese into the sauce, taste, then add ground black pepper to taste. Rinse the butter beans and add them to the sauce, then stir in the spinach.
  9. Place the slices of toast on a baking sheet and set the oven grill to high. Divide the beans between the slices of toast, then leave under the grill until patchily golden. Top with red onion slices, lifted from the pickle, and eat immediately.
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