Beans are considered to be the national food of the Greeks. I do not know the story behind this, maybe it is because they used to eat them a lot, but according to food historians, fassolia and fassolada has been around since ancient Greek times.
However, years back they used to call beans “the meat of the poor” as beans are rich in proteins. Our recent ancestors who used to eat meat once a week were considered amongst the privileged. Before Word War II Greece relied a lot on agriculture and agricultural products which were very cheap at the time. On the other hand the live stock bred was channeled to the cities to be consumed by the rich.
After the World War II, the Greeks suffered a lot and lots of people starved to death, as in many other countries as well. Gradually a post war syndrome developed which has made the generation after the war to change their nutritional habits because of the abundance of products available.
Nowadays, we consume a lot of meat and eat dried legumes and vegetables once or twice a week. We seem to be losing track of the Mediterranean nutrition which is considered to be the best in the world. So we have to put vegetables and dried legumes again on the top of our list if we want to be healthy.
We prepare beans in many ways and this is one of my favourites. It’s a simple recipe but it is important to follow the instructions given below in order to cook them properly and also to avoid the “gas” effect.
Greek white beans Salad
Servings: 5 – 6
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 - 1 ½ hours
- 500 grams of medium size beans (white haricot beans, cannellini, or navy beans soaked overnight)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tomatoes
- Lemon juice
- 1 medium onion
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh oregano, optional
- 2 cans of tuna fish (optional)
Soak beans overnight.
Next day strain, add fresh water and boil. When they start boiling foam is formed on top which remove with a slotted ladle. When this is done, strain them again and put fresh water to cover the beans. When they start boiling, add salt, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 – 1 ½ hours covering with lid, until they are soft.
When they are cooked, let them cool down and strain them.
Add olive oil, lemon juice, taste and adjust salt if necessary and sprinkle some black pepper on top.
Serve with all the other ingredients i.e., tuna, finely chopped tomato, onion and parsley, oregano.
If there is fish in the menu, skip the tuna fish in the salad.