Mediterranean Butter Beans in Chunky Tomato Sauce

Mediterranean recipe for butter beans in tomato sauceI’m not from Greece and I don’t claim to know how to cook Greek food, but my boyfriend is from Greece and according to him, this is pretty close to a traditional Greek dish, so I’ll take his word for it.

Butter beans (also known as large lima beans) are often an underused ingredient and just get put in as a side dish or to accompany the main ingredient. But in this dish, the butter bean plays the main role, and makes for a pretty tasty winter meal.

dried butter beans from Greece

This is by no means a quick dinner dish, it’s laborious and time intensive, but be patient as it’s definitely worth it!

I get these dried butter beans in from Greece, but you can obviously use any that are available from your supermarket. I prefer the dried beans as opposed to canned, simply because I think they taste better when cooked and don’t fall apart.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Dried butter beans
  • 2 cans plum/chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 4 mini chorizo sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Dried oregano
  • Vegetable stock

Directions

soak your dried butter beans overnightYou’ll need to start by soaking your dried beans in some water and leave them in there for at least a whole day. I told you this was a time consuming dish!

After soaking, they should have almost doubled in size. You’re now ready to cook them. Grab the largest pan you own and boil some water WITH NO SALT. It’s my habit to always put salt in boiling water- it makes the water boil faster and it adds flavour to rice or pasta. But in this case it’s really important NOT to add salt. The reason is that you want the beans to cook as slowly as possible to avoid them breaking up and adding salt to water in this case will result in mushy beans that fall apart; and no one wants that.  Once your water is boiling, add in your beans and lower the heat to the lowest setting. Leave the beans to cook for about 3 hours.

Check the beans about once an hour just to make sure there’s enough water to fill the pan; top up with water as necessary.

mediterranean butter beans ingredients neededAbout an hour before your beans are done, start making your tomato sauce. This is a chunky, rustic sauce to add some texture to the soft beans, which is why I prefer to use plum tomatoes instead of chopped, so you get big chunks of tomato in your dish.

Start by slicing your onion into thick slices, add it to a large pan with some olive oil on medium heat. Then add in the chorizo sausage, cut into large pieces and fry off to brown. Next, add your peppers, again cut into thick slices and your garlic cloves in whole.

When your chorizo is nice and crispy, it’s time to add in the liquid. At this stage, I sometimes add in a swig of white wine, but this is optional. Otherwise, just add in your canned tomatoes and stir in your vegetable stock cube.

Season well with salt and pepper. Remember that your beans were cooking without salt, so make sure to add plenty of salt to your sauce or you’ll have a bland dish. Add in plenty of dried oregano, cover your pan, and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Your beans should be cooked by now so it’s time for the next step. Place your beans in a large oven dish and cover them with the sauce. Mix the ingredients in well so all the beans are covered in sauce.

Place this in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

The ingredients at the top should be nice and brown and all the sauce should have soaked into your beans.

Serve with a nice chunk of feta and some crusty bread and enjoy!

Mediterranean recipe using butter beans

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