Thursday, July 12, 2007

Baked Butter Beans, Baked Gigantes Beans, Ful Medames...

.... oh, they have my heart. Ever since I discovered Odysea's Baked Gigantes there's only been one bean for me. Fortunately, they're available in Sainsbury's; unfortunately, they cost £3.49 for a jar that contains about five minutes' worth of urgent, fridge-side gobbling.
So I have tried to recreate them at home. How I've tried... with tomatoes (chopped and real), dried herbs and fresh ones, dill and parsley, olive oil and vegetable stock. According to my web research these babes should be oven-cooked slowly in a mass of tomato and olive oil. Matthew Fort, another addict, generously gave his recipe to the Guardian - that's my next test. But reading his ingredients doesn't make my heart pound. Celery? Onion? I fear he's no closer to the Real Thing than I am.
In my hopeless mission I have just bought a new book on Lebanese cookery. yes, yes, I know they're Greek not Lebanese, but there is a Middle-Eastern version being touted by trendy mid-east restaurants - Ful Medames - that is suspiciously similar.

Unfortunately, the book's recipe for Ful Medames has no tomato (damn you). Mind you, I am quite distracted now by the wonders of lentils-dill-and-rice, stuffed chard, aubergine in sesame sauce, and a lovely herby potato salad. We had dinner in a Lebanese restaurant once and it was incredible. Good place for a vegetarian holiday, I think.

Continuing my quest, I looked up Fagioli - Italian for beans - wondering if they have a similar recipe. They do. Hundreds. It will take me months to try them all. (Sigh). However, now you're looking at it, this is a very delicious book indeed. It has lots of variations on the Roman speciality pasta e cecci (pasta and beans) plus bean-centred bruschetta, a potato and chickpea whip, and some of those gorgeous Tuscan oven-baked bean stews. All of which will, I think, be very scrumptious. But....
...... they're not baked gigantes. (Sigh.......) The bean goes on.