And on the Seventh day, She made beans.
There’s nothing like Sunday afternoons for puttering around the house and simmering beans. Sundays are made for beans. The shops that bother to open close early, to allow people plenty of time to go home and cook beans. Churches, too, close their doors to penitents after noon, as everyone knows there’s nothing more forgiving than a big pot of beans.
I spent my Sunday hovering near a fragrant pot of limas, or giant butterbeans. Gigantes, they’re called in some Mediterranean regions. I forgot to soak them overnight, but beans, remember, are forgiving, especially if you live near sea level. They stayed soupy, and when served with a slab of polenta, were the perfect meal.
I think even Daughter Number Two liked them, though she insisted she could taste the wine. (Maybe that’s because I kept adding more.) Think of it as Communion wine, I told her, forgetting completely that we don't even attend church.
For instructions, click below—there's no need to wait till Sunday!
Gigante Beans (Giant Limas)
1 pound dried large limas or butterbeans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 cup wine
Soak beans for 4-6 hours, or overnight, in enough water to cover. There’s no need to drain the water before cooking, although some will say this gets rid of the gassy bits. It also gets rid of the flavour, but you’re the judge.
Simmer the beans over low heat for an hour. Then, in a large sauté pan, heat the oil and add the onions. Fry over medium low heat until they soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the wine.
Add the onion/tomato mixture to the beans. Pour in the wine.
Continue to simmer the beans for another 2-5 hours, over low heat. Add more water if necessary, enough so that the beans move around freely. Add more wine, too, if you feel the need.
Meanwhile, make the polenta:
Bring 4 cups water to boil. Slowly stir in 1 cup polenta (yellow grits). Lower heat and continue to stir, for about 15 minutes, or until polenta is thick and hard to stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will begin sticking to the sides of the pan.
Pour into a greased 13 by 9 inch pan. Allow to set at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Slice into the shapes you want, and sauté in melted margarine or olive oil over high heat until they start to get brown bits here and there.
Serve the beans in bowls, with a slice of polenta floating on top. The polenta softens in the beans. A slice of ciabatta is also good alongside, as are stuffed grape leaves (dolmades) and a green salad with Greek olives.