Hey, cool beans!
I fell in love with gigante beans way back when I worked at a local Italian Market right after college. We would get these huge cans that were imported from Italy and beautifully marinated in garlic, olive oil, herbs and vinegar. I’d never heard of gigante beans before, but after one taste I was hooked on these oversized, incredibly creamy legumes.
But when I went looking for gigante beans in the market, I could never find them. I wondered if they only grew outside of the United States? Even in specialty food stores and Italian markets I struggled to find a fresh, dried or canned version of the bean to use in my own cooking.
That was until I realized they go by a few different names in America, and they’ve been hiding right under my nose this whole time.
Turns out, gigante beans are widely available in America and you can find them in just about any supermarket. Except they’re sold under the name “giant lima beans” or “butter beans,” the latter being especially common in the south, which makes perfect sense considering their rich, buttery texture.
So I bought me a bag of Goya brand giant lima beans and put them to work. First, a long soak overnight to rehydrate, then over to the stove to simmer with a few aromatics until tender, and then marinated with lots of zippy Spanish flavors. Garlic! Smoked paprika! Sherry Vinegar! Olé!
This salad is lovely served warm, but it’s also wonderful after it’s had a chance to marinate for a few days in the fridge. This is a budget-friendly recipe made with easy to find pantry ingredients, and it’s perfect to keep on hand to munch on during busy days. This vegan-friendly dish is loaded with fiber and protein to keep you full and energized, plus it’s packed with plenty of flavor to satisfy even the craziest of carnivores.
It’s rich, smoky and vinegary. Creamy, crunchy and addictive. It’s got YOU and YUM written all over it. Can ya dig?
- 1/2 lb dried gigante beans, butter beans, or giant lima beans, soaked overnight in salted water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, divided, 2 smashed and 2 sliced
- 2 medium shallots, divided, one left whole and one minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon mild smoked paprika
- 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced plus 2 tablespoons celery leaves
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- Drain the soaked beans and place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the bay leaf, thyme, whole shallot, smashed cloves of garlic, and a generous amount of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Bring up to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook until the beans are just tender, about 30-45 minutes. Be sure to test more than one bean to be sure they are all cooked through. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and saute the minced garlic and shallot until they just start to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and smoked paprika and cook for another minute or two until fragrant. Add the beans, celery and vinegar and turn off the heat. Stir until everything is coated and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, or let marinate in the fridge for a few days.
- This dish is great served as a salad or side dish, but also works fabulously as an appetizer served with crusty slices of bread.
- To speed things up a bit, you can use 2 cans of beans in place of the dried beans and omit the step of cooking them. Just be sure to thoroughly drain and rinse the beans before using.