Ikarian butter bean and tomato bake
This is delicious hot, lukewarm or cold. I also like to mix leftovers with cooked quinoa to take to work. People living on the Greek island of Ikaria have the secret of healthy longevity. This is one of their recipes, which I found in the Irish Times recently. We can’t get giant white beans here but butter beans work really well. I wasn’t sure it would turn out well, but it was delicious – very intense flavours. It contains a lot of liquid. So make sure to use a large dish, otherwise it can boil over in the oven (like it did on me). Slicing the carrots very thinly is a bit of a fiddly chore unless you use a mandolin or a food processor. If you can’t face it or don’t own a decent knife: slice about 1/2 cm thick, steam for a few minutes to soften (keeping the water to make the veg stock with so you don’t lose flavour or nutrients). If you put thick sliced raw carrots into the dish they will still be raw when everything else is starting to burn! Yummy though. This also works well as a side dish with , say roast lamb.
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 x 640g jar of passata (sieved tomatoes)
2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained (or soak overnight and cook 400g/2 mugs dried beans)
3 onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
2 large beef (or 4 regular) tomatoes, sliced
A good handful of fresh oregano (if you can’t get it, use 1 dsp dried)
A few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
300ml vegetable stock
Sea salt and ground black pepper
- Preheat an oven to 220 degrees (105C fan).
- Add the onions and garlic to a bowl with four tablespoons of olive oil. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Massage the onions until they begin to soften down.
- Arrange the butter beans in the base of a large earthenware or baking dish. Place carrots on top.
- Pour over the passata and spread evenly. Arrange the onion mixture across the top, then the tomato slices and press the herbs on top.
- Pour over the vegetable stock, drizzle on the remaining oil and season. Bake on the middle shelf for 40 minutes or until the point of a knife or cooking skewer goes through the carrots easily.
Serve warm, lukewarm or cool with a green salad on the side. You can use leftovers as an accompaniment to grilled or baked white fish, or stir into cooked quinoa to make a quick lunch (or packed lunch).
Why this is good for you:
Butter beans, onions and garlic give you soluble fibre which feeds good gut bacteria needed to help you get rid of toxins, have happier mood (yes, gut bacteria make the feel-good brain chemical serotonin!) and a healthier immune system. A healthy immune system is one that doesn’t over react causing autoimmunity (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism). Nor does it under react causing lowered resistence to infections. Lycopene in tomatoes is fantastic for supporting vision and so are carrots with their various carotenoids. Lycopene and carotenoids are antioxidants – they protect you from damage.