I think that novelly sized things are always compelling. Miniature or giant versions of familiar objects are oddly captivating, as many a roadside tourist attraction can testify. There's nothing quite like a giant shrimp, banana, ball of twine. Australia seems to have particular expertise in creating these large scale models. I also enjoy small things, and I heartily recommend Victoria's wonderful, if slightly odd and not always perfectly to scale, Miniature World. If you have a rainy day in Victoria, there are worse ways to spend it than this sweet and strange little attraction. All these big and small things have new interest once resized, ordinary and strange at the same time.
These giant beans hold the same appeal for me. They are sometimes called gigantes beans, or corona beans and they are huge, about 1.5 inches long. I have been thinking about making these them for about 7 years, ever since I first saw them on the excellent 101 Cookbooks. I hunted around Victoria for them, either dry or canned, but I couldn't find them anywhere. I looked online, willing to pay a bit extra for shipping for these huge , unusual beans. How much could dried beans cost, right? Apparently a lot. I did find them online, but the shipping cost to Canada was so high I couldn't justify it.
I finally found some in a Greek deli when I was out of town for a friend's wedding. I wanted to buy up a few cans for various giant bean experiments, but I was travelling extremely light so I only got one. Only one chance to see if the huge beans would be tasty enough to live up to my rather overly built-up expectations. But they totally did, they were great. Super crispy outside and creamy on the inside. If you can't find the giant beans, you can always use cannellini or similar small white beans. It will still be delicious. But if you spot the giant ones, they are worth it. And maybe send some my way, since I have now used my entire stockpile.
crispy giant beans:
inspired by 101 Cookbooks
about 2 cups giant white beans, canned or dry, soaked and cooked until tender
6 cups arugula & spinach
1 tin artichokes, quartered
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
grapeseed or other neutral oil
In a large frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Add the beans in an even layer, making sure all the beans are touching the bottom of the pan. Fry until the beans are crispy on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Flip all the beans over and continue to fry until all the beans are golden brown on both sides. Canned beans might be a little more crumbly, so flip gently.
While the beans fry, assemble the salad on a plate. Sprinkle hot, crispy beans on top and drizzle with preserved lemon dressing.
preserved lemon dressing:
2 tbs preserved lemon, chopped finely
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs lemon juice
Combine all ingredients and blend until well combined.