Sunday, October 11, 2015

Amazing Greek Beans with Honey and Dill

This recipe for Greek baked beans with honey and dill is adapted from a Martha Rose Shulman recipe at the New York Times.  She offers a range of health-conscious recipes that are always big on flavor.  These are unlike any baked beans I've ever eaten.  The honey, vinegar and dill in the recipe combine with the beans and tomatoes to make a rich, hearty dish that goes great with some chewy bread.  The beans are baked for an hour and 30 minutes in the oven, which makes them quite creamy, not mushy.  It's a meal in itself, but this also makes a good side dish, too!  Instead of diced canned tomatoes that Shulman's recipe calls for, I used tomatoes that Robert cooked down into a sauce and canned. the result, I think, is a more tomato-y dish. Our dill had run its course in the garden, so all I had dried.  It did the trick, though I'd imagine fresh dill would be heavenly.  Shulman's recipe doesn't call for Parmesan cheese, and it's possible this addition makes them decidedly less Greek then.  We like the salty meatiness the cheese adds.

Greek Baked Beans with Honey and Dill
1 pound great northern beans (or other white bean), soaked in a large bowl of water overnight (or see recipe for quick soak method)
about 1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium red or other sweet onion, chopped
6 cups stewed tomatoes (or 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons tomato paste (could skip if you use the stewed tomatoes)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried dill (or to taste)
about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Quick soak bean prep: If you forgot to soak beans the night before like I often do, you can place them in the pot and cover with several inches of water.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 3 or 4 minutes, then turn off the pot, cover, and let the beans soak in the hot water for an hour. Drain.
Place the soaked beans in a dutch oven or other oven safe pot. Add water to cover three inches above the beans.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

While beans cook, saute the onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil (not the whole 1/4 cup!) until they begin to caramelize. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  When the beans are ready, drain them and return them to the pot.  Add the remaining olive oil, onions, tomatoes, bay leaf and honey.  If using canned tomatoes, add water enough to cover the beans.  Stir everything together and bring to a simmer.  Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Bake for an hour, stirring regularly and checking to see if they need more water.  Remove from the oven and stir in the vinegar, tomato paste if using, and salt & pepper. Cover and return to the oven for about 30 minutes more until the beans are tender but not mushy.  Remove from the oven, fish out the bay leaf and stir in the dill.  Let the beans sit covered for about 15 minutes.  To serve, top the beans with a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese per serving and enjoy with some crusty bread.


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