Often this traditional recipe is part of a Meze in a Greek/ Mediterranean restaurant however at home it’s often eaten as a main meal or to accompany a roast dinner. For something so easy and with so few ingredients it’s a great dish, you do have to think ahead because the beans need to be soaked overnight, other than that it’s very straight forward. If you want it as a main meal you could add a handful of spinach and crumble over some feta cheese at the end and serve with crusty Greek bread for moping up the tomato sauce!!
I have mentioned before in previous posts that I find it difficult to cook a meal without meat or fish because my boys always think something is missing! This is another one that they enjoy and another one I can get away with, although having said that I mostly serve it along side a roast!! It’s delicious the next day for a quick lunch, I just reheat it and have it with bread.
I’m not saying this is a traditional recipe but it’s how I cook them and it seems most recipes are very similar. You could change the beans to cannellini beans, swap parsley for dill, I think Rick Stein adds paprika, go for it change it up a bit, my recipe will help you with the basics, cooking times etc. If your pushed for time I would make them the day ahead and reheat them when needed, because although they are easy they do need quite a long cooking time!! I have split the recipe into two parts to hopefully help with the process!
REMINDER: soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water!!!!!
The night before you will need to soak the dried beans in plenty of cold water in a bowl with a lid. Then continue with the first part of the recipe below.
- 500g dried giant butter beans
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2 whole garlic cloves
When your ready to start drain and rinse, then put them into a pot and cover well with water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any scum ( horrible terminology I know ) that comes to the surface.
Drain and give the beans another rinse in a colander. Wipe out the pot just to make sure any scum ( I know I know) has been removed. Return the beans, cover with plenty of water and add the bay leaf and 2 whole garlic cloves. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and cook, partly covered, for about 1 1/4 hours, until beans are tender. Skim the surface when necessary. Add salt towards the end.
Second part of the recipe:
Preheat oven: 180/160 fan / gas mark 4
You will need:
- 2 whole garlic cloves chopped
- 125ml Olive Oil ( I use Greek olive oil )
- 1 large red onion chopped
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 heaped tbsp roughly chopped parsley ( flat leaf )
- 4 thyme sprigs
Heat the oil in a flame proof casserole dish and sauté the onions until they are golden. Add the chopped garlic, then add the tomatoes and purée with salt and pepper. Put a few tablespoons of water into the empty tin swill it round then add this to the dish. Simmer uncovered for just a few minutes. Add the Thyme sprigs & parsley. Take the pot off the heat.
When the beans are tender add them to the casserole with a slotted spoon, add just enough of the cooking water to cover. Stir through gently. Add salt & pepper to taste. Cover and bake in the oven for 45 mins. Take the lid off and bake for a further 15 mins until they are a little crusty on top. Serve hot or at room temperature, drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of parsley.