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Baked White Beans with Vegetables

Sep 24, 2010

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This nutritious dish is both vegan and gluten-free. The beans in this recipe are a type pulse or edible legume. There are over an astonishing 4,000 varieties of beans in the US alone. Archaeological records show that beans were one of the earliest cultivated plants; they continue to provide an important source of protein and fiber for cultures in all areas of the globe today. Since the second millennium BC, a large-seeded broad bean has been grown all around the Mediterranean region and still remains a favorite today. Beans provide a virtually fat-free source of protein and also dietary fiber. Beans promote a healthy heart, are high in folate and magnesium and iron and they help lower cholesterol. This rustic dish is a healthy and economical meal on its own when combined with a salad and some bread to soak up the sauce but can also be served as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish.

Serves 8
Preparation time: 1 hour, 45 minutes plus soaking time for the beans

INGREDIENTS

1 pound dried gigantes (Greek giant white)* or dried lima beans
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped very fine
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 tablespoons grape seed oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ to 2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

1 Sort through the beans on a plate to remove any dirt or stones. Wash the beans in a bowl with plenty of cold water. Drain.

2 For quick soak method: transfer beans to a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer beans for five minutes and then remove from the heat and let stand covered for one hour. Alternatively, cover the beans with cold water and soak the beans overnight.

3 Preheat the oven to 400°F.

4 Drain beans, reserve. Rinse out the pot to sauté the vegetables.

5 Sauté the onions over medium high heat in 3 tablespoons grape seed oil and season with salt, Aleppo pepper and freshly ground black pepper. Lower heat and cook until onions have softened, about 5 minutes.

6 Add garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add carrots and celery and cook another 5 minutes.

7 Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste diluted with ¼ cup of vegetable broth to the vegetable mixture and mix well.

8 Drizzle 1 tablespoon grape seed oil to coat the bottom of a shallow oven-proof casserole.

9 Spread reserved beans and the vegetables in the casserole and mix well.

10 Pour 1 cup vegetable broth over mixture to cover. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary (depending on how salty the vegetable broth is).

11 Drizzle 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil over the mixture.

12 Place casserole dish, uncovered, in the preheated oven.

13 Bake for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Half way through the cooking time, check the level of liquid and add more vegetable broth if necessary so the beans cook evenly.

14 When the beans are ready, remove from the oven and cool. Add chopped flat-leaf parsley to beans and drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top.

15 Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Gigantes beans can be found in Mediterranean and other specialty food stores. If not available, dried lima beans are a good substitute for this dish.

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