Gigantes with Tomato and Dill by Ella Mittas
Serves 6 as a side
These beans are one of the first things my Yiayia taught me to make. The most crucial element in this recipe is to be patient when cooking out your onions and capsicums before you add in the tomato. The longer you cook them out, the sweeter your result will be.
Recipe by Ella Mittas, photography by Jessica Grilli.
500 g/17.6 ounces dried lima beans or butter beans, soaked overnight
2 red onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
8 tbsp olive oil
3 capsicums, sliced lengthways
4 tbsp tomato paste
2x 400 g/2x 14 ounces cans diced tomato
1/2 cup dill, chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
3 lemons, juiced
Flaked salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Soak your beans in plenty of water overnight or for at least 12 hours; this will help them to cook evenly.
2. The next day, cover the beans with water in a pot. Salt the water generously and add 2 tablespoons of oil and a few sprigs of thyme—I find the oil helps with the texture.
3. Bring up to a boil, then turn down to a simmer; the beans should take around 25 minutes to cook through. Make sure you cook them until they’re creamy but not falling apart, as they'll get cooked a second time.
4. Once cooked, take them off the heat and allow them to cool in the cooking liquid. I find this prevents them from drying out.
5. While the beans are cooking, start your base for the sauce. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Sauté your onions for around 15 minutes until they are translucent, then add your garlic.
6. Sauté your garlic for around 30 seconds, then add in your capsicums.
7. Cook out the capsicums on a medium-low heat until they’ve lost a fair bit of their liquid and have started to caramelise. This will take about 15–20 minutes.
8. Add in your tomato paste, fry off for around a minute, then add your cans of tomatoes. Also add in a can full of water.
9. Simmer until the sauce has come together: around 20 minutes.
10. Drain your beans, leaving a little of their cooking liquid to one side in case you need it during the baking process.
11. Then mix the sauce through the beans, add in a few sprigs of thyme and bake at 180°C until you get nice crunchy caramel bits on the tops, which will take around 20–30 minutes.
12. Once the beans are finished, let them cool slightly before seasoning with salt, pepper, lemon and olive oil. Stir through the dill now, too.
About Ella Mittas
Ella Mittas is a Greek-Australian chef and food writer who hosts cooking classes and curates and caters events in collaboration with various venues across Melbourne. She has built her career in food working under Brigitte Hafner, Annie Smithers and Ismail Tosun in Australia, honing her skills in London at NOPI, in Tel Aviv at Romano and in Istanbul at Lokanta Maya.
This recipe is from her debut book Ela! Ela! – To Turkey and Greece, Then Home which can be purchased at ellamittas.com.