Friday, January 27, 2012

Gigante Beans with Salsa Verde: Sunshine in Winter


Gigante beans are very large, but creamy when cooked

A simple dish of creamy, buttery, beans with bright Mediterranean flavors is bound to add a ray of sunshine to your meal. This dish combines Greek beans with Italian salsa verde. First, a note about the beans. Gigante beans are of Greek origin (via the New World). They are very large meaty white beans that are popular in Greece. How do you know you have a gigante? One gigante bean when cooked will fill a teaspoon! However, other white beans would be good substitutes if you can’t find these. Italian butter bean, cannellini runner, or flageolet would be good substitutes, and garbanzos (chick peas) will work well too. You want a bean that will hold its shape and doesn't fall apart after cooking.

Gigante beans with salsa verde and sauteed fava leaves

This dish is best with home cooked beans. For a tutorial on cooking beans, see my previous post. It’s not hard get good results and it doesn’t have to take hours, and home cooked versus canned beans are worlds apart!

Recipe: Gigante Beans with Salsa Verde
2 cups cooked beans (1 cup dry beans)
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 pieces sweet roasted red pepper, diced, about 2 inches by 4 inches per piece (sold in jars, packed in water or oil)
Olive oil for the pan

Add:
Salsa verde (see recipe below) about 2 tablespoons, or more according to taste
Broccoli florets or sauteed fava leaves
Parmesean cheese, shaved

Gently sauté a clove or two of garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide pan (frying pan is fine), being careful not to burn, about 2 minutes. When the garlic has softened a bit add the cooked beans and stir to coat them with the olive oil. Add the chopped red peppers and stir. If you have fava leaves, add them now and let them wilt. Let cook for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Transfer the contents of the pan to a warmed bowl and stir in two tablespoons or more of the salsa verde. Toss well to coat. Serve with broccoli florets and shaved parmesean cheese if desired.

For Salsa Verde
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves (in season in winter)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 kalamata or other olives, pitted (you may use a teaspoon of rinsed capers instead)
2 slices preserved lemon, or grated rind from one lemon
Salt, to taste

Buzz the Ingredients in a small blender, or dice everything very finely and mix with the olive oil. Let sit for a few minutes before serving to allow the favors to marry. This will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.

Photos: Urban Artichoke

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