‘Fasolakia Ladera’, Runner Bean & Tomato Casserole with a feta crumb and potato and carrot pureé
“A summer ladero (olive oil-based) classic, this dish is traditionally cooked with all the ingredients thrown together into the pan.
In this, my interpretation, the beans are blanched and thrown into ice-cold water to retain their vibrant green colour, and the potato is cooked separately and serves as a bed upon which the gorgeous tomato and bean casserole rests.
The dish works brilliantly as an accompaniment to grilled meats or fish, and I have often chosen to serve it as such on a big platter. The feta is always a welcome accompaniment to ladera dishes, but you can omit it or replace it with a soft plant-based cheese to make a nutritious vegan meal. As with all ladera dishes, hold back some extra virgin olive oil to sprinkle over at the end.”
By Irini Tzortzoglou from her book “Under The Olive Tree”, published by Headline Home 2020. Photography by David Loftus.
For the bean casserole
500g runner beans
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50ml dry white wine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
a pinch of caster sugar
250ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 spring onions, finely sliced
For the feta crumb
50g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp pistachio nuts, crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
100g Feta cheese
For the olive oil potato purée
250g Maris Piper potatoes, or other potatoes suitable for mashing
a pinch of grated nutmeg
For the carrot purée
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp ground coriander
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mixed herbs (mint, coriander, parsley)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
- First make the feta crumb. Put the fresh breadcrumbs and crushed pistachios on a baking tray, sprinkle with the olive oil, dried oregano and pepper, and toss to mix. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl. When the crumb is cool, mix in the crumbled feta and set aside until needed.
- Top and tail the beans if they need it (this normally pulls away any stringy bits along their sides) and blanch them in gently boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and drop into a bowl of ice-cold water, leave to cool, then drain again and put to one side.
- Put the chopped onion into a saucepan with the oil and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and toss for a minute or so, then add the wine and cook until it has almost evaporated. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar, stock, parsley and spring onions, and cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes. Add the beans and
- simmer for a further 10 minutes, until cooked.
- While the casserole is cooking, peel the potatoes and cut them into roughly equal chunks. Put them into a pan, cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt and a splash of oil, which will add to the velvety texture of your purée. Bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. Drain. Add the remaining oil and the nutmeg
- and mash by hand, or with a stick blender for a smoother consistency. Test for seasoning and keep warm.
- Peel the carrots and cut into roughly equal chunks. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the carrots, and cook until soft. Drain, then add a drop of olive oil to the carrots and mash by hand, or use a stick blender for a smoother purée. Return to the pan, season with ground coriander, salt and pepper, and keep warm. If necessary, reheat the potato and carrot pur.es briefly in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.
- Test the bean casserole for seasoning and serve, sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, the herbs and the feta crumb, with the potato and carrot purées alongside.