This is a super simple recipe that can be made with staples from the pantry and freezer, but I give some examples below of ways to dress it up into what feels like a refined and sumptuous, savory dish that can be served as a side or main. I highly recommend ripping off hunks of bread from a crusty loaf to use for sopping up the tomato sauce. Make it a meal by adding a Greek salad.
The inspiration to create this recipe came when I found myself with a package of Rancho Llano Seco heirloom beans, called “Jackson Wonder”…and I wondered what to do with them. Reading the back of the package, it seemed that they were a type of lima bean. So, I decided to recreate one of my go-to choices at Greek restaurants–gigantes. Generally, the dish is made with the largest lima beans you can find (hence the name, gigantes). However, I am more partial to small beans, so the Jackson Wonder fit the bill. You do you.
Some cooking notes:
I prefer the taste of beans cooked from dry, but frozen beans will also work for this recipe. Canned limas will yield a stronger taste and somewhat mushy end product, but will still be edible if you like canned lima beans (I do not). If using canned beans, you may want to opt for cannelini beans, white kidney beans, navy beans, or any other mild-tasting bean. This recipe would be delicious made with any of them. Just be sure to drain canned beans and rinse off the slimy juice they come packed in.
Fresh herbs bring a brightness to the dish makes it feel much fancier than baked beans, but dried thyme and oregano are also tasty. Skip the parsley if using dried herbs as it is essentially tasteless.
This is truly a dish that is much more than the sum of its parts. Bonus: beans are packed with protein and heart-hearty, microbiome-loving fiber.
Greek-style Beans Baked in Tomato Sauce and Herbs
- Yield: 6 main dish servings 1x
- 1 pound of any type of dried lima beans (or 6 cups frozen, pre-cooked lima beans, thawed)*
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided (optional)
- 1 medium onion, small diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
- 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (and their juice)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leave, chopped (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp minced, fresh parsley, optional
- Cook lima beans (aka. butterbeans) using whichever method you wish until cooked through and tender, but not mushy. Salting the water (~1 tsp salt) during the cooking process with speed cooking and improve the flavor of the beans. Drain cooked beans. If using frozen, make sure to drain thawed beans.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the same pot used to cook the beans (or similar-sized pot); add onion and garlic, season with a couple pinches salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until onions begin to turn translucent, but do not brown. (**Note: if you want to avoid oil, just add 1 tbsp of water instead of oil when you add onions to the pot.)
Add tomato paste to pot, stir until it starts to stick and just starts to brown in spots. Then, deglaze pan with can of tomatoes and ½ cup water.
Stir in thyme, oregano, and cooked beans. Heat, stirring, to a light simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using, add remaining 1 tbsp olive oil.
Move pot, uncovered, to the oven (if oven safe), or transfer to a baking dish, and bake for 60 minutes, longer if you want the top to be a bit dried with crisp bits.
Serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with chopped parsley. Delicious served with crusty bread to sop up the tomato sauce.
Nutritional Info (per serving): Calories 286, Total Fat 5.5g, Saturated Fat 0.9g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 377mg, Total Carbohydrate 48g, Dietary Fiber 11g, Sugars 3.3g, Protein 13.5g, Vitamin A 22.6%, Vitamin C 35%, Calcium 8%, Iron 25%