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Sunday, 26 December 2010

Tuna Belly Black Gigantes Beans (Ventresca με μαυρους Γιγαντες)

These are Gigantes beans (or elephant beans) from Prespes D.O.P - Γιγαντες Πρεσπων -
but the dish also works with Borlotti beans, or plain gigantes.
Afterall it is a version of ventresca & borlotti, which is a very common but wonderful dish.

For 3 as a 1st or 2 as a main;
-2 cups dried Borlotti or Gigantes soaked overnight covered in cold water & 1 tbsp of baking soda
-2 tins of good Ventresca / tuna belly as a main course (or fresh, seared on a pan- if you can find it)
 -1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes
-1 pink onion / white will do to boil, and 1 more onion chopped finely, to bake.
- tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- good olive oil in abundance
- fresh parsley
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, if small more.

- Pre-soak the beans, adding 1tbsp of soda powder. This helps soften the shells, they get creamier - Next day rinse the soda off them well, and drain. Boil for 10 minutes, and drain again, put beans back in the pan and over with water, add 1 whole onion and 1 clove of the garlic, and boil gently for 1-1/2 hours.
* this re-boiling helps make them easier to digest and this works well with most beans, borlotti, lentils, etc.
When cooked drain partly, keeping 2 cups or so of the purple juicy water.
discard onion, leave the garlic.

- mix the beans and heir reserved juices with the rest of the chopped tomatoes and chopped onions / garlic, parsley and add plenty of olive oil & oregano and the vinegar.
Stir 1 cup water with the tomato paste and add.
But all this in a baking pan and bake, at 180c for 30-45 mins, checking they re not drying out, adding water in small amounts when needed to keep them creamy. You want the top to crisp a little while the bottom soaks and gets soft.

-REMEMBER NOT TO ADD SALT TO THE BEANS UNTIL THE END - their shells will toughen. Add salt at the end.

This so far is a pretty classic greek baked gigantes as my mum does it, though she doesnt add vinegar. I do.

When done, and the juices around the beans are a glowing yellow red oil while the beans taste smokey and creamy but still have a bite to them, you re done.
Now you can season, serve with the ventresca on top, and a slice of lemon and extra parsley.

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