04 Jun Giant, fat, Greek butter beans!
You will fall in love with the nutty and mushy flavor of these beans! Beans, a staple in most households in Greece, are a fantastic source of both carbohydrate and protein. The best giant beans are grown in the north of Greece and never in large amounts. It is not easy to find those outside Greece but any type of butter bean would work with today’s recipe. Make sure you serve this dish with some warm freshly baked crusty bread to soak up all the wonderfully rich tomato sauce. Some feta cheese will make a great addittion and will complement the flavours. These giant, fat, greek beans may work either as as a side or a main course!
- 400g dried butter beans (large) – in Greek this variety is known gigantes – produce of Northern Greece
- about 30 ml Greek extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
- 1 large onion, finely choppedi>
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato purée – if you want a darker richer red color you may use more tomato puree
- 800gr ripe tomatoes, skins removed, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- pinch ground cinnamon
- some orange peel
- a bunch of chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
- about half a bunch of chopped dill
Soak the beans overnight, or soak at least 7 hours, in plenty of water. Drain, rinse, and place in a pan covered with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, then simmer for approximately 50 minutes until they are well cooked but not mushy. Drain and set aside. Keep about 2 cups of the liquid.
Heat some of the olive oil in a large frying pan, tip in the onion and garlic, then cook over a medium heat for 10 mins until softened but not browned. Add the tomato purée, cook for a further 2 minutes, add remaining ingredients, then simmer for 2-3 mins. Season generously, then stir in the beans, the two cups of “bean liquid” set aside and a bit more olive oil. Tip into a large ovenproof dish, then bake for approximately 1 hr, uncovered and without stirring, until the beans are tender. The beans will absorb all the extra liquid and the sauce will thicken. Allow to cool, then scatter some parsley on top, drizzle some olive oil and serve.