I usually make butterbean paste with dried beans that have been soaked and then boiled, because I can then use the cooking liquor to thin out the spread, if need be. Here, however, to make up for the extra effort involved in making the red pepper paste, I've gone for a shortcut version with tinned beans.
6 red peppers
8 whole garlic cloves
2 mild red chillies
1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
60g walnut halves, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
¼ tsp sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp tomato paste
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
For the butterbean hummus:
100ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin on, lightly crushed
3 thyme sprigs
2 tins butterbeans, rinsed and drained (470g net weight)
- Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the peppers, the eight whole garlic cloves and chillies on a large oven tray lined with baking paper and roast for 20 minutes. Transfer the chillies and garlic to a bowl, cover with cling-film and set aside, then roast the peppers for another 15 minutes, until the skin is blackened. Add to the bowl with the chilli and garlic and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins from the peppers, garlic and chillies. Discard the seeds and stems from the peppers and chillies, and put the flesh in a food processor with the peeled garlic cloves, the thyme leaves and a half-teaspoon of salt. Blitz to a rough paste, spoon into a medium bowl and stir in half the walnuts, the smoked paprika, tomato paste and vinegar.
- For the hummus, heat the oil in a small saucepan on a medium flame, then very gently fry the crushed garlic clove and thyme sprigs for two to three minutes, until the garlic starts to caramelise. Discard the garlic and set aside two teaspoons of the cooking oil and the thyme sprigs. Tip the remaining oil from the pan into a food processor with the beans, two tablespoons of water and half a teaspoon of salt. Blitz until the mix has the consistency of hummus, adding a little more water if needed. Spread out on a large plate, creating a natural rim around the edge, then spoon the red pepper sauce into the centre. Sprinkle over the remaining nuts, scatter over the crisp thyme sprigs, drizzle with the remaining oil and serve.