The Austerity Kitchen Challenge: Giant White Bean Stew

Greek white beans, otherwise known as gigantes, are large, slightly sweet beans that are perfect in soups and stews. Authentic Greek recipes use them in slow-cooked stews flavored with fresh herbs. It is important that one procure only the freshest beans as that will cut down on the time spent cooking them.

For this month’s Austerity Kitchen Challenge, the Kitchen has developed a version of a tasty traditional Greek bean stew. Substitute large lima beans for the giant Greek beans if you are unable to locate them. Feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices.

Giant White Bean Stew

1 1/2 pounds dried giant white beans
1/2 cup olive oil
2 small onions
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 bunch celery, chopped
5 large tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup tomato sauce, or meatless pasta sauce
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
3/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Soak the beans overnight and then cook them until almost tender in unsalted water. Put all ingredients, except for the parsley, in a crock pot (or you can bake the beans at 400 degrees F for forty minutes) and cook until beans are tender and sauce is thick. Once dish is ready, stir in parsley and serve hot (or, for a more traditional dish, serve the bean stew at room temperature with thick slices of Greek or Italian bread).

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