Beans, grains and lentils feature a lot in our kitchen once the cold weather sets in. I was recently shopping at the huge Greek warehouse, stocking up on olives, cheeses, cook ware and dried pulses, including the large lima or butter beans. They are great additions to salads, and the Greeks also bake them in terracotta pots. They would use the fabulously large Gigantes bean, but I have not yet been able to find them here. Butter Beans (Lima Beans) are great substitutes.
This recipe isn’t really a Greek one, and it isn’t really baked – it is stove cooked. But it keeps the sweet-sour-dark flavours of beans that have been oven baked, and it is pretty delicious.
The genesis for this recipe is one by Ottolenghi in his Guardian column, but I have altered it somewhat, to use what I have on hand and to simplify the processes just a little.
It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books and articles – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking mainly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books and his column recipes completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar recipes include Greek Chickpeas Slow Baked with Herbs and Tomatoes, Lima Beans Baked with Spinach and Feta, Slow Cooked Tomato Chickpeas with Burrata, Chickpea and Butter Bean Noodle Soup, Florentine Beans, and Baked Lima Beans with Celery.
Browse all of our Butter Bean dishes and our White Bean recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.
Rustic Spicy Baked Lima Beans
As usual with Ottolenghi recipes, this makes A LOT. Either feed an army, scale back on the amounts or be prepared to freeze some.
200g dried butter (lima) beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
2 Tblspn olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
1 dried red chilli
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tspn smoky paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn chilli jam or chilli paste (adjust to the heat of your jam or puree, you may need less)
40g tomato paste or 1 cup pureed tomatoes (puree chopped tomatoes in blender or small bowl of food processor)
1 Tblspn soft light brown sugar
2 Tblspn apple-cider vinegar
sea salt to taste
2 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
2 Indian black cardamom
Drain the beans, discarding the water. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan on a medium flame, and saute the onion with the dried red chilli until the onion is soft and nicely browned – about seven minutes.
Add the garlic, smoky paprika and spices, stir and cook for a minute, then add the beans and a 750ml of water. If using, add the juniper berries, bay leaves (Indian, West Indian or Sweet Bay Laurel), and black cardamom. These deepen the flavours and add an additional smoky touch.
Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and leave to simmer slowly for 50 minutes, until the beans are soft but still hold their shape. Add more water if required.
Add the chilli jam, tomato paste or puree, sugar, vinegar and salt to the beans, turn up the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, until thickened and rich. Stir through the chopped parsley.
Serve hot and enjoy. They are delightful on thick sour dough toast.
recipe notes and alternatives
This is delicious with slices of avocado on toasted, seeded bread.