Ikaria in Greece is one of the five blue zones areas of the world. These zones have been identified as having the highest concentration of centenarians in the world where residents are said to live longer, healthier and happier lives than the rest of the world. The Ikarian diet is mainly vegetarian with very little red meat and instead it relies heavily on homegrown fruits, vegetables and local produce. Eleni Karimali from Ikaria taught me how to make this "giant bean" stew called Gigantes Plaki in Greece. It will instantly transport you to the little Greek island and hopefully knock a few years off along the way.
- 3 onions, finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 28 ounces butter beans
- 4 carrots, thinly sliced
- 23 ounces tomato sauce or Greek passata
- 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
- Handful fresh oregano
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1¼ cups vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
Add the onions and garlic to a bowl, pour in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
Massage the onions until they begin to soften.
In the base of large earthenware dish or baking dish, arrange the butter beans.
Place the carrots on top, pour over the tomato sauce and spread out evenly.
Arrange the onion mixture across the top, add in the tomato slices and press the herbs roughly on top.
Pour over the vegetable stock and place in the oven on the middle shelf to cook for 40 minutes.
Serve warm from the oven.