We’ve an interesting harvest of beans in the garden this summer. I went a bit bean crazy in the spring, so confidant was I that we were going to have another hot summer.
I had a collection of seed gathered from far and wide. Yin Yang beans, Cannnelini beans, Borlotti beans, French beans, Italian beans, Runner beans and Chickpeas. The results have been quite mixed but apart from the yin yang beans, which have gone AWOL and the Italian beans, which really couldn’t handle the climate, everything else is having a go.
Any bean that has grown inside has flourished but the outside ones are having a rough ride. The French beans are so cold that instead of growing straight they are growing curly and the outside borlotti and cannelini are looking weatherworn and sad. Luckily the runner beans are super acclimatised to the Irish climate and we had some of all the above growing in the tunnel.
I’m excited about the chickpeas, as little pods are finally appearing and the cannelini beans and borlotti beans — which are such a treat — are all harvested and almost eaten.
So as you can imagine, we’ve been eating a lot of bean dinners.
Beans and pasta, Bombay beans, beans and courgettes, beans and tomato, beans in salads, and this month’s recipe – Greek beans (Gigantes Plaki) baked in tomato sauce with feta crumbled on top.
I was wondering what to cook when I remembered this dish that we had eaten when we were in Syros, Greece. It was made with giant butterbeans and came bubbling in a terracotta casserole to the table with just melted feta on top. Delicious eaten in the sunshine and mopped up with a piece of bread and equally as delicious served with baby spuds at home.
I made ours with our homegrown cannelloni beans but butterbeans would be more authentic – whatever you fancy and if you don’t have good ripe fresh tomatoes, use a can. Use ewes’ milk feta if you have a choice, as it is better in consistency and flavour.
Greek Beans – Gigantes Plaki
600g cooked beans – butterbean or cannelini (2 cans)
approx 75mls olive oil
2 stems celery
4 cloves garlic
4 big fatty tomatoes or 2 cans
1tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
150g feta cheese
Peel the onion and chop finely. Heat a pan, adding enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom and the chopped onion.
Cut the celery sticks into three or four lengthways then chop finely and stir into the onions. Season with a little salt and sweat on a medium-low heat for five minutes. Don’t let them brown.
Peel and chop the garlic and stir in, cook for two minutes then add the tomatoes, oregano and cinnamon. Bring to the boil then turn to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Give it the odd stir and keep the pot gently bubbling.
Pre heat the oven 190c.
Drain the beans if you have cooked them yourself or rinse and drain if you are using canned beans.
Tip the beans into a shallow ovenproof dish.
Taste the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper then pour over the beans. Give the dish a shake so that the sauce slips between the beans, then bake for 40 mins. The sauce should be beginning to bubble around the edge. Take the dish out of the oven, crumble the feta into rough chunks over the top and bake for a further ten minutes.
Serve with chopped parsley scattered on top.
Our autumn cooking class schedule is now kicking into action. We’re beginning with a trip around the Mediterranean with recipes from Greece, France, Spain, Italy and Turkey to give you some inspiration for new dishes.
Please check our or website for further details or drop into the shop and have chat.
Here’s hoping that an Indian summer will arrive for September. I’m told the chances are higher now that the kids are back in school uniform!
Lettercollum Kitchen Project
22, Connolly Street, Clonakilty