The only thing requiring when cooking beans from dry is a little extra foresight. If tomorrows dinner is going to beans, then plan ahead. It’s easy. The easiest way is to just put tomorrow night’s beans into a big bowl of water with a ratio of about 3 cups water per 1 cup beans before you go to bed. This will give you faster cooking beans the next day. I always make extra and store them in the refrigerator in the remaining cooking liquid along with a splash of olive oil and a dash of salt. They keep for up to 5 days this way.
Filling and healthy, this is a classic Greek recipe, called Gigantes plaki, consisting of ‘giant’ beans baked in a tomato sauce along with tomatoes, carrots, plenty of garlic and a little oregano. A dish we so very often savored on our last trip to Greece. It’s simple and AMAZINGLY delicious!!!
Original Gigantes beans, which are a type of jumbo-sized white bean, can be found at Greek or ethnic markets, otherwise use large lima beans or butter beans.
This traditional Greek dish is best enjoyed as a hearty and delicious side or appetizer along with some crusty bread — and if you like feta cheese as I do, go ahead, add a salty touch, sprinkle some crumbled feta on top.
As a vegetarian dish, it’s of course a great source of protein, antioxidants and fiber, while the addition of tomato not only makes them tastier but the vitamin C in the tomato helps increase the absorption of iron from the beans.
NOTE: The recipe is easy and quick to prep, yet the active cooking time is somewhat long, so a little planning ahead is required.
ROASTED BEANS IN TOMATO SAUCE
Serves 4 to 6
500 g Gigantes or butter beans (soaked in water overnight — the longer, the better)
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot sliced
1 x 400 g can crushed tomatoes, or 600g fresh tomatoes, grated
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided (120 ml)
fresh chopped parsley, garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
2. Drain and rinse the beans. In a large pot, add the beans and cover with water by 4-5 cm. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, until the beans are tender, but still hold their shape. The beans should be cooked but not mushy.
3. In the meantime, using a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat and sauté the onions and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the carrot, tomato, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper, and half of the olive oil. Allow to simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
5. Once the beans are cooked, drain through a colander and return them to the pot. Add the sauce and mix gently. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish, spread evenly and pour the remaining olive oil over the beans. Bake for 50 -60 minutes until the beans are soft and tender and the sauce thickens.
6. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.