Beans come in all sizes here in Greece.
Giant sized beans, medium-sized and the tiny ones.
The big white beans are called gigantes (giants) and are best cooked in the oven.
The medium sized ones are cooked in a tomato sauce in a saucepan and are like a thick soup – that’s fasolada.
Fasolada is perhaps the national food of Greeks!
I remember a time when my husband and I were in England on holiday.
He had had enough of English cuisine.
I loved it but then again I grew up in South Africa and was happy to eat steak and kidney pies, baked potatoes, stews etc.
My husband on the other hand had just about had enough!
We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner and she had prepared … fasolada!!!
I still laugh when I remember how emotional my hubby got when he saw that.
Not that this was his favorite dish, but … it was … Home!!!
There are also the tiny beans which are mainly served as a salad.
I know you’ve heard of mousaka and souvlaki but unless you’ve eaten fasolada or gigantes … you can’t say you’ve eaten Greek style!
On a cold winter’s day, a steaming bowl of beans is the best!
Protein and fiber rich beans can be bought by the kilo from any grocery shop or supermarket.
I was never a fan of beans – perhaps because of the gas that they create and the discomfort.
However, I’ve realized that it’s all got to do with how they’re cooked.
STRANDED … beans to the rescue
One of the best meals I’ve ever had, was on Pelion Mountain – at Chania, the ski resort.
It was a freezing cold day, and before we knew it, the roads were cut off by heavy snowfall.
We had to stay at a shelter there and the only meal available was … fasolada.
Well, that, with freshly-baked bread and lots of red wine was just about the best comfort food I had ever had!
Here’s a very simple recipe for fasolada:
- 2 large onions cut up thickly
- About 1 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup of thickly chopped parsley
- 3 carrots cut up in slices
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- Half a cup of tomato paste
- Salt, pepper and 1 bay leaf (laurel leaf)
- One whole red hot chili pepper
- 500 gram of beans which have been left soaking overnight.
Sauté the onions in the olive oil, add the parsley and the carrot slices. Salt, pepper and the bay leaf. Add the chilly (optional).
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste.
Strain the beans which had been left soaking overnight and add to the sauce.
Add about one and a half liter of hot water and let it simmer over a low heat until the beans are soft but not mushy.
Serve with fresh bread and red wine!