This is a total classic in Greek home cooking and one of our favourite comfort foods. Over the years we have tried different variations on the standard and this is the one we have concluded with.
What makes it different from the classic is the addition of the juice and zest of an orange along with some white wine and a table spoon of brown sugar - it gives it extra yumminess!
We also tend to make a summer and a winter version of this dish. In winter we add warming spices like cinnamon and bay leaf, whereas in summer we leave them out.
This dish is great making for a crowd, we like bringing a tray of it to gatherings. It keeps well in the fridge for several days of sides and sneaky mouthfuls and also freezes well.
500 gr dry gigandes beans (you can buy these in specialist food shops or online - if unavailable you can use dry lima beans or butter beans - however the result is not quite the same. Avoid using canned butter beans to omit the soaking and boiling stage - doing this gives a very suboptimal result)
3 tbsp of Opus oléa extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp of dried chili flakes
1/2 a cup of white wine
1 tin of whole tomatoes (400gr) and their juice, crushed with your hands
4-5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 orange, juiced and zested
about 2/3 of a cup of vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 handfuls of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
This is a recipe you need to start from the day before by first rinsing the dried beans well and then soaking them in fresh water at least overnight (or for 12-18 hours if you can). Keep in mind the beans will absorb the water and swell up so you need to be sure to have them in plenty of water.
The next day rinse the beans off and place them in a large pot with fresh water to cook until they are fully cooked through and tender (about an hour). While they cook, remove any scum that rises to the top with a slotted spoon and discard. Once the beans are done drain them in a colander.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
While the beans are cooking, prepare the sauce by putting the oil in a saucepan and adding the diced onion and carrots. Cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and chili flakes and stir for one more minute or so until it becomes fragrant. Add the wine, crushed tomatoes and their juice, the chopped sundried tomatoes and the sugar and stir well. Let it all bubble up and heat through well. Then add your drained beans, the vegetable stock and orange juice and zest and stir all ingredients well. Do NOT add any salt until after the beans dish is cooked. Adding salt earlier will harden the beans.
Now take an oven proof dish and pour the contents of your pot in it. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 45min. After this time, remove the foil and let the beans caramelise and slightly char on the edges. The aim is that the beans are left with a bit of thickish sauce. If you find that the beans have become too dry, add a bit of stock or water and give them a stir.
Once the beans are done and you take them out of the oven, while they are still hot, add salt and pepper to your taste as well as the fresh parsley and stir through. Sprinkle more fresh parsley on top when you serve the beans and add a drizzle of Opus oléa extra virgin olive oil.
It is worth making a bigger quantity as they keep so well. No baked beans dish compares to the mellow creaminess and comforting crispy-edged stickyness of this one ...
To buy Opus oléa click here.