Welcome back to Chef Orky’s Healthy Kitchen! This recipe was inspired by my year spent living in a Greek household: Lima Bean Stew (Gigantes Plaki).
Last Christmas, I was lucky enough to try a dish called Gigantes Plaki. This stew is a very hearty and healthy meal that is perfect for the fall. It can be a great side or can be a main dish. It was delicious, and I wanted to go back for seconds, but I could not figure out what this stew actually consisted of. Finally, the woman that made the stew told me that the star of the dish was actually a giant bean, which they call “gigantes.”
The food in this Greek home was always delicious and full of fresh vegetables, however, they also loved to use a lot of oils and full-fat dairy. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to lighten up recipes, so I tried to choose my ingredients carefully as I was preparing to make this dish, in order to make it as healthy as possible.
When I looked into the type of bean to use, I found that I could easily substitute lima beans, which are much cheaper than gigantes, and easier to find in the store. As it turns out, lima beans are one of the healthiest varieties of bean. Lima beans also help to balance your blood sugar, and are great for people with insulin issues, such as diabetes. The iron that’s found in them is great for providing energy. Lima beans have vitamins that help lower your cholesterol, and they are also jam-packed with fiber and protein, which makes them very filling!
Before making any lima bean recipe, it is important to wash and soak the beans for 8 hours or overnight, so make sure you plan ahead! I ended up changing this recipe to speed up the cooking process and thought it still turned out great. After soaking the beans overnight, I drained and rinsed them before transferring them to a large pot with the halved onion and carrot. I brought all the beans, onion and carrot to a boil, then simmered them for about one hour.
While the beans were simmering, I sauteed the finely chopped onions and celery in butter. Adding carrots to the onion and celery mixture, I fried and stirred them (I also decided to add a ton of garlic at this point). Once the beans were cooked and drained, I set aside the onion and carrot to cool, then chopped them up and threw them back into the stew. I added the cooked beans, vegetable stock, water, tomatoes, bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste, and brought this to a boil.
At this point, I was supposed to transfer everything to a casserole dish and bake it, but I was starving and couldn’t wait. Instead, I ended up just letting everything simmer together in a pot with the lid slightly askew. This allowed the steam to be released and the sauce to thicken.
I decided it needed a little spice, so I added some cayenne and liked it much more this way. If you like a little spice like I do, keep some red pepper nearby. After trying the final product, I think it turned out just great!
Here’s the recipe:
Lima Bean Stew (Serves 4)
For boiling the beans:
1 cup dried Lima beans, soaked in water for at least 8 hours
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
1 large carrot, cut in half
For the stew:
1tbsp I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
1.5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup of water
2 cans of chopped tomatoes (13.5oz each)
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the beans overnight (8 hours)
Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large pot with the halved onion and carrot
Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil
Reduce heat, then simmer (~1 hour)
(While the beans are simmering)
Sautee the chopped onions and celery in butter until soft (~10 minutes)
Add carrots to the onion and celery mixture; fry, stirring occasionally (10 minutes)
(After beans are cooked)
Remove halved onion and carrot to cool
Once cooled, chop onion and carrot, and add them back into the stew
Add the cooked beans, vegetable stock, water, tomatoes, bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste; boil
Transfer stew to a casserole dish, bake at 350 degrees, stirring every half hour or so (2 hours)
Simmer in a pot with the lid slightly askew to allow the steam to be released and the sauce to thicken
Add spice, to taste.
© Copyright Whatismyhealth, September 22, 2016