A satisfying dish of creamy, buttery, beans with bright Mediterranean flavors is bound to add a ray of sunshine to your winter meal. This dish combines Greek beans with Italian salsa verde, which is made with fresh parsley (lucky you if you have it growing in your garden). 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: Italian butter bean, cannellini runner, flageolet or even garbanzos (chick peas) will work well too. You want a bean that will hold its shape and doesn’t fall apart after cooking.
Cooking Beans 101
For a short tutorial on cooking beans, go here. Home cooked dry beans versus canned beans are worlds apart, and you’ll be a convert once you get into the habit of cooking your own. I’m spoiled in that one of my favorite farmer’s market vendors, Iacopi farms, sells last season’s dry beans, therefore they are very fresh. I’ve even planted and grown them!
Gigante Beans with Salsa Verde
You will need:
2 cups cooked beans (1 cup dry beans)
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 pieces sweet red pepper, roasted and diced, about 2 inches by 4 inches each (sold in jars, packed in water or oil)
Olive oil for the pan
Salsa verde (see recipe below) about 2 tablespoons, or more according to taste
Parmesan 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 it doesn’t 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. Cook for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Transfer 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 parmesan cheese if desired.
For Salsa Verde:
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, more if a thicker sauce is desired
1/4 cup olive oil, more if a thinner sauce is desired
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 all of the ingredients 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. Use on pasta, pita wedges, or toss with vegetables.
Photos: Urban Artichoke