This is a staple at any Greek taverna – it is almost impossible to find giant butter (Lima) beans in the UK but standard butter beans will do. It is always worth using dried beans (soaked overnight), the taste and texture are very good but if you are in a hurry you can use tinned butter beans which are also good and cheap!. This humble bean (very much overlooked in the UK) is great for heart health, diabetes prevention, increased energy levels, enhanced digestion and good blood circulation – again I stand in awe of the Greeks and their ability to take basic ingredients and make a delicious meal for a very small cost. You can buy this dish (Gigantes plaki) in a tin – but once you have made them yourself there will be no turning back! The other benefit of eating beans like this regularly is that they fill you up, making you less likely to snack on other things 🙂
1/2 kilo of dried butter beans soaked overnight (2 full cups) or 2 x 400g tins of butter beans (these are very cheap in the UK)
1/3 x cup extra virgin olive oil
1 x large onion – finely chopped
3 x large cloves of garlic – grated
1 x large carrot – finely diced
1 x stick of celery – finely diced (tip: I only ever use celery in cooking, so I freeze chopped celery and take out a handful when I need it – no waste 🙂
1 x 400 g tin of plum tomatoes – mashed
2 x tbsp tomato puree
1 x red pepper – chopped
2-3 bay leaves
4 x tbsp fresh or dried dill (fresh is better for this recipe)
1/2 cup of water
1 x tsp sea salt
1 x tsp ground black pepper
Soak your butter beans in cold water overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans, then add them to a large deep pan and cover with a lot of water – bring to a boil and then simmer for about 2 hours until the beans are soft but still have a bit of bite. Drain and set aside.
(If you are using tinned beans then you can drain, rinse them and set aside).
Set your oven to 160 degrees.
While the beans are cooking, add most of the olive oil into a frying pan and gently saute the onions, celery, carrot, garlic and chopped pepper. When they are softening, add the mashed plum tomatoes, tomato puree, dill, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Mixing everything together.
Now season with salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you can really taste the dill.
Add the tomato mixture to the drained beans and mix together – add a little water and then put the mixture in a deep baking dish and drizzle over the rest of the olive oil.
Cook for about 45 minutes – make sure the liquid doesn’t disappear – and you can always add a little more liquid if needed.
Serve when slightly cooled with crusty bread and a Greek salad.