Monday, January 17, 2011

Greek Spiced Tomato Stewed Beans

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This is my take on gigantes plakes, Greek tomato-y baked beans of sorts. We've had the real deal at Evvia and Kokkari several times and it's always delicious. So much so that sometimes I dream about it. My take is delicious and curbs my cravings a bit, although not quite restaurant quality (obviously). I used dried cannellini beans instead of gigantes beans because gigantes beans are a bit hard to find. I'm sure if I went to a Greek specialty store, they would have it. But I couldn't find it at my local Whole Foods. I like gigantes beans better for the recipe because, well, it's giant (as the name implies). And who doesn't like giant beans? But cannellini is fine in a pinch. Cannellini beans have thicker skin, which takes away from the creaminess of the dish. Like I said, it's okay in a pinch. I may try lima beans next time.

You'll need:
  • 1 pound gigantes beans, lima beans or cannellini beans
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 sprigs dill, stem removed and rough chopped
  • 1 26-ounce can skinless whole tomatoes, pureed into sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • crumbled feta (optional)
Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and add beans and Bay leaf to a large pot, add enough water to cover beans completely. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring water to boil. Cover, reduce to simmer. Cook until beans are tender but not falling part, about 45 minutes. Drain, set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute diced onion and red pepper flakes in olive oil in an oven-proof pot over medium low heat until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, dried oregano, cinnamon stick and dill and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to boil. Gently stir beans back into the pot. You want to keep the beans as whole as possible. Cover pot and bake for 30 minutes. Serve over some crusty toasted bread with crumbled feta on top, if desired.

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