Autumn, Winter, Light Meals, Sides

Tomato & Rosemary Borlotti Beans

'Tis the season for health and frugality, two words that don’t often go together. Eating healthily can be associated with spending more than we can afford on expensive organic fruits and vegetables.

Of course, eating fresh whole foods where possible is good for our bodies – but there are plenty of ways to eat a healthy, balanced diet with blowing the budget.

For example, frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested at their very best and frozen within hours of being picked, making them a great choice.

Eating fresh strawberries in January that are not only pretty tasteless, but must have travelled more air miles than you did in the whole of last year, is definitely not helping anyone.

Combining pantry staples such as tinned beans, legumes and plum tomatoes with fresh, seasonal produce is a wonderful way to ease ourselves into the new year in a more gentle and sustainable way, without the risk of bankruptcy!

I've waxed lyrical over the years on the health benefits of beans, and I try to incorporate them into my diet several times a week.

This recipe is predominantly made from pantry staples: tinned beans, chilli flakes, frozen chopped onions, tomato purée, and garlic, along with a little fresh produce such as tomatoes and herbs.

As always, there's room for adaptation here, particularly when it comes to the type of beans you use and how you serve them. Feel free to stir through some fresh greens, or to serve the beans on a bed of grains.

You could even stir through a little wholewheat pasta, if you like, to make a more substantial meal.

You may also choose to use tinned tomatoes if you're out of fresh, although I find this is a great recipe for using up tomatoes that are past their best.



6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

200g frozen chopped onion, or 1 onion, diced

2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

¼-½ tsp dried chilli flakes

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 heaped tbsp tomato purée

400g tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 x 400g tins borlotti beans, rinsed and drained

To serve

Parsley, chopped

Drizzle of olive oil

Chilli flakes

Crusty bread, grains or greens


  1. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the remaining oil, the rosemary, chilli flakes and garlic, and cook for a couple more mins.
  3. Add the tomato purée and continue to cook for a further minute or two, before adding the chopped tomatoes. Stir to combine, then add 250ml water, the salt and pepper, and the beans.
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 mins.
  5. Check for seasoning before dividing between four bowls and topping with chopped parsley, an extra drizzle of olive oil and more chilli flakes, if desired.
  6. Serving crusty bread or toast on the side is a delicious option, as is piling the beans on top of grains or greens.

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