And we're back. There is light in my apartment, water flowing from my faucets, and food in my refrigerator. Other than a temporary loss of power, I weathered hurricane Sandy without incident, and my first order of post-storm business was to get cooking. Enter these giant beans with honey and dill. Otherwise known as what I've eaten for dinner nearly every single night since returning from Greece. This recipe, which I learned at cooking class in Ikaria, requires a bit of planning ahead but the result is so delicious (and so voluminous) that you'll happily be eating beans for days. I've eaten them cold as part of a salad, hot on top of steamed kale or quinoa, and straight from the pan while standing over the kitchen sink.
Most of the ingredients in this deceptively simple dish are pantry staples (a plus since I had to throw away everything in my refrigerator) but copious amounts of chopped dill lend a fresh note to the deep rich tomato sauce. And while they may have tasted best on an Greek Island overlooking the Aegean sea, they're not too shabby when paired with a New York couch and latest episode of Nashville either.
One last thing--it feels a bit funny to be writing about food at a time when so many have lost so much. Manhattan was more or less back to normal today, but many East Coast residents have been devastated by hurricane Sandy. If you're looking for a way to help, here are some options.
Giant Beans with Honey and Dill
Adapted from Diane Kochilas
1 lb dried giant beans
1/3 cup olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons honey
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
The night before you want to cook the beans, place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with ample water. Cover and soak overnight. In the morning, drain the beans and place them in a large pot. Add enough fresh water to cover the beans by three inches and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, skim the foam from the top of the pot, and simmer partially covered for 60-90 minutes, until tender but still firm.
Preheat the oven to 375. Pour the cooked beans into a 9x13 baking dish and add the onion, olive oil, tomatoes, honey, and water. Stir to mix, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour, adding more water throughout baking if necessary to keep the beans from drying out. Add the dill, vinegar, tomato paste, salt and pepper and continue baking for 15-30 minutes, or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick.