Wednesday, 16 May 2012


“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

A recipe for today, as the weather keeps getting wintrier here in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a classic Greek dish perfectly suited to falling temperatures, increasing rain and shorter days!

Fasolatha (Greek Baked Beans)

160    g dried haricot beans
2    litres water
1    large celery heart (stalks and leaves)
2    large onions
2    tablespoonfuls tomato paste
1    240 g can of peeled tomatoes
2    large chopped carrots
4    rashers of bacon (optional)
1    cupful of olive oil
1    handful of chopped parsley
2    stock cubes
    salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans in water for a couple of hours and then rinse them thoroughly in a colander under running water. Put them in a kettle with the 2 litres of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer. In a second pan brown the chopped onions in the hot olive oil and add the finely chopped bacon and stir in the chopped carrots and parsley. When these are well coated with oil, add the tomato puree and chopped peeled tomatoes, stirring well. Pour the vegetable mixture into the simmering beans, add the stock cubes and continue to cook slowly until the beans are very soft, adding more water if you need to.

Fasolatha is the national dish of Greece and is traditionally considered a poor person's dish, since beans are very cheap. Adding more water makes the dish more of a soup, while less water makes the dish more substantial and more suitable as a single course meal, served with slices of crusty bread and washed down with some red wine. The addition of bacon is an extravagance that was usually out of the means of most people having this dish.

Given the dire economic straits that Greece is finding itself in, it seems that recourse to this dish as a regular staple may be the only solution to many a family’s hardship…

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