beef, cannellini bean and rosemary breadcrumbs

Florence Knight

Although it can be tempting to cook something flamboyant and elaborate for the one you love, it's usually best to keep it simple. Rather than slaving away in the kitchen, spend the time and effort sourcing the best ingredients: a trip to your local butcher for the perfect cut, or an early-morning jaunt to the farmers' market for vegetables, or a loaf fresh from the baker's oven. Make what you can in advance so that the final flourishes are effortless.

It's worth splashing out on the finest cannellini beans you can find; they tend to come in glass jars rather than tins, on the shelves of delicatessens. Alongside the velvety beans and tender beef fillet, the emerald-green rosemary breadcrumbs add colour and crunch.

Serves 2 people

20g fresh rosemary Olive oil
80g white bread, preferably Pugliese
10g fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 banana shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 doves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
A jar or 2 tins cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (total drained weight 480g)
180ml whole milk Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
2 x 150g beef fillet, at room temperature

Set a small pan over the lowest heat. Place the rosemary and 4 tbsp olive oil into the pan and leave to warm together for a couple of hours. Pour into a pestle and mortar and pound the rosemary to get as much flavour from it as you can. Set aside overnight, or for as long as possible.

Break the bread into pieces and place in a food processor. Blitz with the parsley until the crumbs are still quite coarse and bright green but with no visible pieces of parsley remaining.

Strain the olive oil from the rosemary, discarding the herbs, and pour 2 tbsp into a shallow pan. Place the pan over a medium heat and, once hot, add the breadcrumbs. Toss the breadcrumbs in the hot oil for a couple of minutes until they are crisp. Set aside in an airtight container if making in advance.

Set a medium pot over a low heat. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil, the shallots and a pinch of salt, cover and cook for 10 minutes until they are soft and without colour. Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the cannellini beans and milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir through 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and the lemon juice and blend in a food processor, or with a stick blender, until smooth and silky. Return the purée to its pot, cover with the lid and set aside to keep warm.

Season the meat generously and heat a heavy-bottomed skillet. Once the pan is hot, place the fillet into it, cooking for 2-4 minutes (depending on the thickness) on each side for medium rare. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for at least 8 minutes. Slice each piece in half, widthways, at an angle to reveal the pink centre.

Spoon the cannellini purée onto the plates, top with some extra-virgin olive oil, the beef and the rosemary breadcrumbs.