Would our white “Aztec” beans work in this dish?
Fasolia gigantes are very large white beans much loved in Greek cooking, and I wondered if the white-seeded “Aztec” runner beans that some of us grow would work instead in this recipe which I found in Rena Salaman’s book Greek Food. I tried it out on a Greek friend of mine, and the result was “just as it should be”.
Serves four people as a main course.
- 2 cups dried “Aztec” beans, or about 4 cups of fresh ones
- Half a cup of good olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 2 tins of tomatoes or about 1kg of fresh ones
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
If you are using dried beans, soak them overnight, drain, then boil until just tender, but not too soft. Fresh beans just need boiling for a few minutes and draining. Heat the olive oil and fry the onions, garlic and dried herbs until they start to be golden. Add the tomatoes and their juice and a bit of water and mash them up a bit and cook for 30 minutes or so, until the sauce starts to thicken. Spread the beans across the bottom of a nice oven dish or casserole. Mix the parsley into the sauce, pour it over the beans and mix them all together. Sprinkle a bit of oregano and black pepper on top and bake at 180 degC for 40 minutes, until they start to look a bit crisp on top.
From Joe Foster
My favorite bean dish, using our large white “Aztec” beans, or borlottis.
This is my very favorite bean dish. It works especially well with the large white “Aztec” beans that some of us grow on our plots, dried or fresh. It might be even more delicious with borlotti beans, if that is possible. It serves 2 or 3 people.
- A cup of dried beans, or about 2 cups of fresh ones.
- Half a cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Six fresh sage leaves, or a sprig of sage blossoms
- A small dried chili pepper, crumbled
- Four good cloves of garlic, crushed
- Salt and black pepper
- A 400g tin of tomatoes or about four fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped.
If you are using dried beans, soak them overnight and drain. Boil the beans until they are nice and tender. Drain them.
Get about half the oil hot and simmer the sage, chili, and garlic in it for a minute or two, then add the beans and fry them all together for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and simmer it all for about 30 minutes. Top up with water if it gets too thick.
Season to taste, then pour the rest of the olive oil over the top and serve. Do not be tempted to skimp on the olive oil!
I like it with steamed brown rice, but my wife prefers it with mashed potatoes. If you manage to have any left the next day, try Tuscan Beans on toast. Sublime!
I found the original version of this recipe in a wonderful little book called The Goodness of Beans, Peas and Lentils by John Midgley. It is full of great things to do with beans. Any of the recipes that use cannellini or haricot beans are even better with Aztec beans.
from Joe Foster
Joan Croft’s delicious filling for tartlets, flans, sponge cake or topping to ice cream…
Makes about 6 lb.
- 3 lb eating apples
- 1/2 oz butter
- 2 lb sultanas
- 1 pint water
- 1 level teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 level teaspoon ground mace
- 1 1/2 lb sugar
- 4 oz chopped candied peal
- juice of 1 lemon
Peel, core and slice the apples. Butter the bottom of a saucepan and put the apples, sultanas and water in it and cook gently for 20 minutes. Add the spices, sugar, candied peel and lemon juice. Heat to dissolve the sugar, then boil, stirring until it reaches a thick consistency, about 20 minutes. Pour into clean, warmed jars. Cover and label them.
Use it as a filling for tartlets, flans, sponge cake or as a topping to ice cream.
From Joan Croft
What do you do with all those windfall apples? Make apple juice …
What do you do with all those windfall apples? We only recently discovered how easy it was to make apple juice if you have some form of mechanical juicer. Surprisingly, the apples from our old Bramley tree, normally too sour to eat, make the most delicious juice with just the right balance of sweetness, acid and tannin – like a fine wine. All we do is wash them in plain water, cut off the damaged bits and chop them small enough to go into our juicer. With our machine you get a lot of froth at the top of the juice which seems to hold most of the original tartness. Let it sit for a while, then scrape most of it off, and carefully decant the juice into a fresh bottle, taking care to fill it right to the top. Try putting a small wedge of lime through the machine for every litre or so of juice for an extra lift to the flavour.
From Joe Foster