Sunday, March 20, 2016

White Beans with Greens and Tomatoes

Although dry beans often come to mind as a winter, comfort food, today's recipe for a bean dish is a perfect transitional dish from winter to spring. It is not a very rich as a bean dish can be, thanks to fresh herbs, spinach and tomatoes.

Bean dishes are quite popular in the Mediterranean cuisine, especially northern Italian. The inclusion of Feta cheese suggests that this one comes actually from the Greek culinary tradition.

White Bean Baked with Greens and Tomatoes
(Serves four)

1/2 pound dry cannellini beans, which must be washed and soaked overnight in water,
1 medium onion,
1/2 bunch of spring onion, finely chopped,
1/2 cup chopped dill,
6 oz bag of baby spinach,
1 lb plum tomatoes, cut into small cubes,
1 cup crumbled feta cheese,
6 tbsp olive oil,
salt and pepper.

1. Put the beans in a large pot, cover with water and cook on a medium heat until beans are cooked but still very firm. Drain the beans and save about a cup of water.
2. Preheat oven to 375F.
3. In a large frying pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add chopped onion and fry until transparent. Toss in spinach leaves and cook them until wilted and water evaporates. Add chopped spring onion and dill and cook together for about 2 minutes.

4. Mix the beans with cooked greens. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to an oven proof dish.
5. Drizzle the remaining 4 tbsp of olive oil on top of the beans. Pour in about half a cup of the leftover water from cooking the beans. Cover the top of beans with chopped tomatoes and sprinkle with crumbled feta.

6. Cover the baking dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for about an hour, until the beans are soft. If the water evaporates and beans are still hard, add extra water and let it bake a little longer.

Serve hot alone or with country breads.