I guess it must be time for yet another bowl of beans! Distinctly European on this occasion. This one is full of rich powerful flavours: olives, tomatoes (sun-dried and fresh), celery, paprika, garlic and tons of fresh herbs. And, of course, melty soft buttery butter beans to soak up all those wonderful flavours. ‘Tis a Mediterranean feast for the taste buds!
I haven’t thought much about food the last few days. There’s been a lot going on in the UK and I’ve been flitting around facebook trying to make sense of things and feeling generally distracted. It’s all very unsettling to say the least.
But, a girl’s gotta eat 🙂 , and a delicious stew like this delivers a bit of my mojo back. It really is good.
I bought dried butter beans. I soaked 500gms. of dried beans for 48 hours, changing the water twice daily. I then cooked them long and slow for about 2 hours. I froze the ones I didn’t use in this stew.
I’m lucky because I have a herb garden on my vegetable allotment, so I used a range of my own freshly picked herbs. It’s worth using fresh herbs for this recipe, and they’re readily available in the shops these days.
GIGANTES PLAKI – GREEK BEAN STEW
If using dried butter beans, soak and cook in advance.
(250gms. of dried beans should give 500gms. of cooked beans)
- 70ml. olive oil (extra-virgin cold-pressed)
- 500 gms. pre-cooked butter beans (tinned is fine)
- 1 onion (approx: 120gms.)
- 250gms. carrots
- 120gms celery
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 500 gms. tomatoes
- 100gms. sun-dried tomatoes
- 100gms. pitted whole crunchy green olives
- 20gms. tomato puree/paste
- 200ml. water
- 1.5 tablespoons. paprika powder
- 1.5 tsps. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon powder
- 1.5 tsps. dark muscovado sugar
- 50 gms. fresh herbs : dill, oregano, thyme, parsley
- Garnish: 1 tbs. sumac + 2 tbs. nutritional yeast
- Pre-heat oven to Gas Mk 4 / 180C
- Peel and finely chop onion.
- Peel, wash and finely slice carrots.
- Wash, trim, and finely slice celery.
- Peel and crush garlic cloves.
- Remove tomato skins from fresh tomatoes, by cutting a cross into the top of the tomatoes and then immersing them in just boiled water for 10 mins. The skins should then come off easily. Discard the skins.
- Finely dice the tomatoes.
- Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into chunks.
- Wash the herbs. Remove any tough stalks and finely chop.
- In a deep-sided casserole pan, that has a lid, and is oven-proof, place 70 ml. olive oil.
- On a medium heat, allow the oil to get hot and then add the diced onion, the sliced celery and the sliced carrots.
- Sauté for 5 mins. until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add crushed garlic. Sauté 1 min.
- Add paprika, cinnamon and salt. Sauté for 30 secs.
- Add beans, stir to combine. Sauté for 1 min.
- Add diced tomatoes and 200 ml. water.
- Stir to combine, and bring to simmering point.
- Add tomato puree/paste, sugar, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and half the freshly chopped herbs.
- Stir to combine and simmer for about 3 mins.
- Cover, and place in the oven for 45 mins.
- Check after 30 mins, adding just a little more water if necessary. (I didn’t need to)
- After 45 mins. remove cover and cook for a further 15 mins.
- Stir in another handful of the chopped herbs, reserving some for garnish.
Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining fresh herbs, nutritional yeast and sumac ( a wonderful lemony-peppery herb – always worth having around).