Athanasia’s Cranberry Bean Stew (Fasolia Handres tis Athanasias)

Athanasia Moraiti, my late mother in law, cooked the mottled fresh cranberry beans together with potatoes and peppers, a combination I would not consider, if I had not tasted and loved it. Somehow I was under the impression that shelled beans and potatoes were not the best combination for a stew, but I was wrong. Fresh cranberry beans, called handres (beads), are sold frozen in Greece, so they cook very fast. Dried beans of any kind, not just cranberry, can also be used for this dish. Feta cheese, with its salty-sour taste, comlpements idealy the bean stew.

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4 servings

1 1/2 cups dried cranberry beans(1/2 pound), soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup chopped spicy sausage (like chorizo) casing removed
2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock4 thyme sprigs
1-2 teaspoons Aleppo or pinch of crushed red pepper to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

In a large saucepan, cover the beans with 3 inches of cold water and
bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat until the beans are barely tender,
about 30 minutes. Drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the sausage and cook for 3 minutes, crumbling it with a spoon. Add the beans, tomatoes, stock, thyme and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.
Cover partially and simmer over moderate heat until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover partially and cook until tender, about 15 minutes longer. Stir in the parsley, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, if you like and serve hot or warm.

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