4 x 235g cans butter beans or 500g dried butter beans (see tip, below left)
100ml Greek extra virgin olive oil
3 small red onions, finely sliced
2 large carrots, finely sliced
3 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
4 sundried tomatoes, sliced
1kg ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp sugar
small pack flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
small pack dill, finely chopped
100g feta (optional), crumbled
Using dried beans
If you have time to start with dried beans, you will really notice their firmer texture in the finished dish – they’re much cheaper too. If you are using dried beans, soak them in plenty of cold water, ideally for 12 hours, changing the water frequently. Drain, put in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a steady boil (don’t salt the water as this makes the beans tough), skimming off sediment as it rises to the surface. Change the water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1–11/2 hrs until tender, then drain.
Drain the canned beans, reserving 200ml of the liquid. Heat the oil in a large flameproof lidded casserole dish, and cook the onions, carrots and celery until tender and the onions are soft and transparent, but not coloured. Stir in the remaining ingredients, reserving half of the chopped herbs and feta (if using).
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Cook over a gentle heat for a further 5 mins, then pour over the reserved liquid. Cover the dish and bake in the oven for 40 mins. Check occasionally that the beans are not drying out – add a little more water if needed.
Remove the lid and bake for 10 mins more. Can be made 2 days ahead and reheated. Stir through the reserved chopped herbs, season to taste, then crumble over the remaining feta just before serving.