Dec 1, 2011

Eat Giant Beans; They're a Giant Gas!

Know how mini is all the rage?
Mini muffins.  Mini pies.  Mini Tacos.  Mini Burgers.  Minnie Mouse.
Ok.  So she's not so popular anymore.  Give the gal a break.  She's been around the mouse hole a time or two.

Mini is cute.  Mini is fun.  Mini is a party girl. 
But mini is a sly little minx.  Has a dark side. 
Mini has a way of making us look petite and polite while we scarf down a dozen shrunken hot dogs. 
Mini is the green light for evil.

So I make a case for Giant.  Big.  Ginormous.  Honkin'. 
Giant doesn't play games.  Giant doesn't lurk under a dainty disguise just waiting to sink its nails into your self control.

And giant is good for a laugh.  Good for a good laugh.  Not some shrugged shoulder, tee-hee, hide behind your hand laugh.

Standing in my kitchen with only four beans practically filling my hand, I laughed a good laugh.

Baked Giant Butter Bean (Yigandes) from Food From Many Greek Kitchens

I wanted to use giant speckled butter beans, also called Christmas Lima Beans because they are more attractive than plain old white ones.  But this is what I could find.
Not so giant until they are soaked--but that's what led to giant laughs when The Boy & I saw how much they expanded

This dish was good, but not great like the other Tessa Kiros dishes we've tried so far.  Part of it was that we're used to a certain style of slow cooked beans.  I was raised on red beans and rice and these baked butter beans were very different from that.  Kiros begins the recipe by writing, "In Greece, a lot of legumes are eaten as a main meal."  We found this dish too one dimensional to be the entrée. 

It also didn't help that I served the beans with Kiros's Olive Bread.
It stole the show.

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Baked Giant Butter Beans (Yigandes)
from Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros

1 pound 2 ounces dried giant butter beans (I used 1 lb)
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, 2 whole, 2 chopped
1/2 c olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley
4 thyme sprigs

Put the beans in a bowl with plenty of cold water and soak overnight.  Drain and rinse, then put into a pot and cover well with water.  Bring to a boil, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface.  Drain and give the beans a shower in a colander.  Wipe off any scum from the sides of the pot.  Return the beans to the pot, cover with plenty of water and add the bay leaf and 2 whole cloves of garlic.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook, partly covered, for about 1 1/4 hours, until the beans are tender.  Skim the surface when necessary.  Add salt just toward the end.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heatproof casserole dish and saute the onion until golden.  Add the chopped garlic and cook until it smells good, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and some salt and pepper.  Swish the tomato can with a few tablespoons of water and add to the pot.  Simmer uncovered for a few minutes.  Add the parsley and thyme sprigs.  Remove from the heat.

When the beans are tender, transfer with a slotted spoon to the casserole.  Add enough of the bean cooking water to just cover.  Mix gently.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Cover and bake for 45 miutes, or until the beans are creamy and there is some thickened sauce left in the pot.  Take the lid off and bake until a bit crusty on top, 15 minutes or so.  Cool a little before serving

Serves 6-8

This week's theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs is "Bean There, Done That"
Check out more bean dishes here.
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  1. I just finished a recipe too using large limas, not that big though... nice intro to your recipe, a fun read

  2. The minute I looked at this all I could think about was Jack and the Beanstalk. I'm guessing that THOSE are the kinds of beans Jack planted in order to get that HUGE stalk to grow, no?

    What a fascinating dish. I've never seen beans that big but they'd be fun to cook with. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yay! Time for us giants to have our turn in the spotlight. ;-)
    I should try cooking these more, I have only done them for ful. (fool, fuhl)
    I agree though, hard to find the beans sexy with that bread stealing the show!

  4. Totally in agreement on this one. i like my cupcakes "mini" but my butter or lima beans "giant"! This dish sounds delicious!

  5. tee hee... I LOVE Butter Beans...and yeah, I think it has something to do with the size. So fun!

  6. Those are some huge beans, Michelle! I have to laugh because they remind me of magic beans for a beanstalk or something. Too funny.

    The beans look like they were fun to work with. Too bad they were kinda one dimensional.

  7. Those are some big beans! wow. I've not cooked a lot with butter beans before, but this does look like a nice dish, and something different.

  8. Those big ol' beans look like a perfect side dish. Nice post,it made me smile!

  9. That big/kind of beans are hard to get around here. I'm sorry the dish wasn't what you expected.

  10. Love your post!

    I have found memories of butter beans. I only ever had them at Grandma's house for dinner. I tried recreating the taste once, but it wasn't the same.


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