Greek Beans with Tomatoes, Celery, And Carrots

After my daughter Randi and her husband came back from their vacation in Greece,  I bacame inspired to find some Greek dishes to make for them.  I came up with this recipe, and Randi and Dan really like it.  It is healthy, tasty, and economical.

  • 1 lb. bag of dried cannelini beans (or fasolia gigantes or similar large dried white beans)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of extra virgin, regular, or light olive oil
  • 2-3 onions, about 11 oz, chopped (rough chop)
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped medium
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped medium
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspooon dried oregano or thyme, or mixture of both (I used fresh thyme leaves, about 1 tablespoon, and dried oregano)
  • 1 28 oz. canned plum tomatoes (do not use juice), rough chop
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 8 oz. water
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp, but that made the end result a little hot)

1.  Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with plenty of cold water, then let soak overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day, drain the beans, then rinse them under cold water in a collander, and drain.
2.  Pour the beans into a large saucepan, pour plenty of cold water to cover, then bring to a boil.  Cover the pan, and cook the beans at a simmer until they are almost tender, about 50-60 minute.  Giantes will cook more quickly, so keep testing them after they have been cooking for 30 to 40 minutes.  The beans should be soft, but not disintegrating through overcooking.  If the beans are starting to break in half, they are totally cooked.
3.  While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil a clean saute pan ( I didn’t use a nonstick pan for this), add the chopped onions, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste,  and saute until light golden.  Add the celery, carrots, garlic, herbs, and stir with a wooden spoon until the garlic becomes aromatic and the vegetables are softish.  Stir in the tomatoes, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  (covering is not essential)  Pour in the diluted tomato paste with water, then return the cooked drained beans to the vegetable mixture, add the sugar the parsley, and any additional salt and pepper.  Mix gently.  Pour into a large 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake covered for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees and serve.
If you want the dish to have more sauce, bake it covered in the oven.  If you would like the liquid to evaporate more so that the surface of the beans and vegetables become a little candied, then bake it uncovered.  If you are baking the dish uncovered, check the beans once or twice during the 30 minutes, and add more hot water if the beans look dry.
You can make the vegetable mixture while the beans are soaking, and refigerate until after you cook the beans.
You can probably substitute cooked beans, but you may lose a little of the texture or the authentic taste of the dish.

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