Today is all about beans. Beans are such a great all around food since they are so versatile, healthy, and filling- not to mention cheap. They also have a nice smooth texture which some picky eaters like, and they can be picked up one by one. On the health end, they are high in fiber, protein, as well as folate and manganese. They have been shown, along with other pulses, to help people reduce weight by increasing feelings of satiety and stabilizing blood sugar.
The most common preparation of beans in the US outside of soups is probably baked beans, and these have the advantage of being quick and easy and sweet, which ups their desirability with kids. Canned baked beans are a great option for a quick main dish for kids. I also love plain canned white beans or lima beans with a little bit of good extra virgin olive oil, lemon or vinegar, and salt and pepper. Add canned solid tuna and you have a great summer lunch.
In England, a classic comfort dish is beans and toast, which seems like a strange carb on carb thing to me, but I tried it and it’s not bad. In the British foods section of the grocery store, if there is one, you might see Heinz beans in tomato sauce. In spite of the US brand, they are classic in Britain and often find themselves part of beans and toast. Since these beans tend to go over well in my house, I thought I’d try making a quick version at home.
My first try got the following report: “a little bit good but not VERY good”, so I knew I had to keep trying. This version finally got a good report from the little guy. It’s a very simple dish and not as heavy as the sauce you get in baked beans.
The second dish is a Greek favorite of mine. The marriage of caramelized tomato sauce with dill and olive oil smells divine while baking, and makes for a comforting, simple dish. It can be served room temperature as well as warm. Add a drizzle of high quality olive oil at the end for a real mediterranean treat.
UK style beans in tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 1 can navy beans
- 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- dash granulated garlic powder
- pepper to taste
Mix the ketchup, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and oil in a small saucepan and stir until blended. Add beans and place over low heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes and then remove from heat. Allow to cool a bit before serving.
Greek Giant Beans – Gigantes Plaki
- 1 – 12 oz bag of frozen butter beans or lima beans
- 2 diced tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp dried dill, or 2 tbsp of fresh if you have it
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Add onion, garlic, and carrot and sauté for 3 minutes on medium high heat. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, dill, bay, salt, pepper, beans and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and transfer beans to an oven-safe dish. Be sure the beans have enough liquid to nearly submerge. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until the beans have absorbed the liquid and are beginning to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil.