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Greek Bean Stew with Fetta

With thanks to Jill Dupleix 

Greek recipes usually call for the broad, kidney-shaped dried gigandes or gigantes (giant) bean, which is interchangeable with the lima or butter bean, but you can use any good white bean (eg haricot, cannellini). Buy dried beans for a more authentic flavour and texture, or canned for a quickie version. This is a lighter, stove-top version of gigantes plaki, which is usually baked.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 400 g dried white beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400 g canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • half tsp pepper
  • half tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • olive oil for serving

Method

Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. The next day, drain and cover generously in fresh warm water. Simmer for around one and half hours or until tender – the length of time will depend on the bean and its age.(Or open 2 x 400 g cans of white beans, drain and rinse). Heat the oil in a fry pan and fry the onion until soft but not browned. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato puree, water, parsley, half the dill, bay leaves, salt, pepper, paprika and sugar and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes until nice and thick. Rinse the feta cheese, pat dry and cut into chunky cubes. Drain the beans, reserving a cupful of the cooking water. Combine the beans and the tomato stew in a large pot, adding the bean water as well if you want a soupy version. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, then add the feta cheese and remaining dill and simmer for another 5 minutes until the cheese is soft. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and serve hot or at room temperature, with some warm flat bread and a Greek salad.

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