When you are in a rush healthy eating is probably the last thing on your mind. You just want to satisfy your hunger and fill up your belly with the quickest food available be it healthy or not. Well now you don’t have to worry because when you have those nights and you need something quick and healthy I’ve got you covered with my delicious traditional Greek fasolia. I’ve given fasolada a revamp and created posh beans on toast. Yes beans on toast not as you know them. But as a healthy balanced meal with all the trimmings and ready in 30 minutes.
GROWING UP EATING FASOLADA
If you had told my 10 year old self that at the age of 33 I’d be writing a recipe about how tasty fasolia are, I would have stood there for hours and adamantly told you the hundreds of reasons why that wasn’t possible. That I would never write about, let alone want to eat fasoulada he he!
If you have no idea what Fasolia is (also known as Fasolada or Fasoulada), it is a traditional Greek and Cypriot dish made by simmering beans with tomatoes and other vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery and bay leaves.
Sounds ok right?
But the sweetness and aroma from the onion, sugar the earthiness from the carrot, and the floating kind of herbal kick from the celery was not for me!
This mirepoix, or the sautéing of the carrots, onion and celery introduced such a strong depth of flavour, which to me overtook the beans (which are a great carrier of flavour) and the tomato sauce base, for my young pallet was too aromatic. I think if there was a stronger contender in the sauce that didn’t take on all the sautéed veg flavour and added another dimension of flavour to complement the mirepoix, for example some braised beef, pork or lamb it would have tasted so much better.
So when I had kids, don’t ask me why, but fasoulada / fasolada came to mind and I thought I’d make it for the whole family because they’re a great meat free alternative.
I didn’t want to eat it cooked the traditional way, so I started experimenting.
THE BIRTH OF FASOLADA POSH BEANS ON TOAST
I knew I wanted the tomato base and beans as my foundation so I worked up from there focusing on making this meal satisfy all the taste buds.
We used to eat fasolia / fasolada with smoked kippers, crusty bread, cucumber and tomato salad, onions and olives.
I wanted to take the traditional recipe and give it my own ggmix twist respecting the basics and developing upon them to create a new dish altogether, which when tried by traditional fasolia / fasolada lovers they’ll say,
“This isn’t fasolia! You don’t add this or that to fasolia.” and my response would be,
“Who said this is fasolada? This is Posh Beans on Toast”.
This is when I’d know I had accomplished what I set out to do, keeping the heart of the dish and giving it a new lease on life. So all you Yiayias and Theias out there who are going to say,
“this isn’t how you make fasolia!”
I’m not trying to make fasolada, you all know the recipe and I know the recipe so there is no need for me to show you something you already know. This is my take on it, because I don’t like it but I love the nutritional aspect of the beans and the sauce and that’s why I’ve added a little bit of this and a little bit of that and come up with a new dish altogether.
Fasolada Posh Beans on Toast!
Yes, beans on toast, but on another level.
WHAT IS FASOLADA POSH BEANS ON TOAST
I’ve taken traditional beans on toast and made them super healthy and delicious. They have sweetness from caramelised onions and garlic. Red wine vinegar cuts the rich tomato sauce that coats each silky bean which are nestled amongst umami rich lentils. The beans are served with some salty creamy feta and crunchy spring onions, the contrast between the two compliment each other beautifully. Crisp minted cucumbers and tomatoes and bursts of bitter Kalamata olives are also served along side the beans. But what makes this dish is what the beans are served on. A bed of toasted bread. Or you can always soak your loaf in the beans it’s your choice. (“,) Do you know what makes these fasolada posh beans on toast even better? They can all be made in under 30 minutes, sides as well.
Yes I know this is the intro to my posh beans on toast video but hey it is good and describes the dish perfectly so “what aint broke…” and all that (“,) If you haven’t seen my video and thought my description above was making you salivate wait until you hear me say it with the fasolada posh beans on toast in front of you. Well on the screen in front of you hehe…. You are going to want to make it straight away. So go and watch the video after you finish reading my ramblings. I will leave it right here for you.
WHY ARE MY FASOLADA POSH BEANS ON TOAST SO TASTY?
Anyway, let’s get back on track. When I start balancing a dish I like to break the dish down into different components.
- The 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.
- Textures: crunchy and smooth.
- Temperature: heat and coolness.
I always use this as my template because I know if I’ve got a little bit from each component in my dish my food will taste fantastic. Here’s a breakdown off each component and a little explanation about why I’m using each ingredient.
I want to keep the tomato sauce as the base of my dish so I’ve used caramelised onions to give it some sweetness. Caramelised onions on their own is not enough. I want more depth of flavour. Flavour to come from different directions with each bite. I want to get excited and to do that I need another layer of sweetness to make it more interesting. So I’m also going to add some caramelised garlic which will add a heated sweetness. This will contrast well with the onions so when your tongue tastes it, it’ll get hit with a double whammy of sweetness because now it’s no longer 1 dimensional we are working in 3d baby!
Don’t worry the onions give only a hint of sweetness. You won’t taste it being sweet like you do if you were to add spoonful’s of sugar. Because we’re working on a savoury dish and we don’t want it to taste sweet, we want the sweetness to balance all the other flavours so it’s not obvious that it’s there. But if it wasn’t you’d know it was because it would taste too bitter.
The sauce is a little rich and overpowering so to cut its richness I add a splash of red wine vinegar. This makes the sauce less heavy and leaves a little twang behind after each mouthful. It’s more exciting that way (“,)
As I said earlier the fasolia may have tasted better if there was some kind of meat to soak up all the veggie flavour and impart a little meatiness. I wanted this dish to be meat free so any kind of meat was a no go. (well this time anyway maybe next time who knows). I wanted a meat substitute to give the sauce a layer of savouriness so I started playing with legumes and decided on red lentils because they not only add some umami/savoury taste but also an earthy undertone, just like the carrots did in the traditional fasolia recipe.
We used to eat our fasolada with smoked kippers which are really salty and have a texture that is velvety smooth. I loved it for those two reasons. I wanted my fasolada posh beans on toast to be meat free so left in the shop and my favourite cheese took it’s place. Feta. It’s salty but not too much. It’s velvety and crumbly, giving chunks of smoothness. I also wanted another element of salt to balance the dish other than the salt I season with. So now I have two elements of salt in my dish but I don’t want it too salty so I add a little sprinkling of dried oregano for a hint of bitterness to balance the saltiness and it’s warmth also equalises the feta’s coolness.
What goes perfectly with cheese?
Yeah you know.
You can’t get a better pairing than cheese and onion.
It’s up there with strawberries and cream and tomato and basil. That’s why I always serve my fasolada posh beans on toast with onions. I chose spring onions because they don’t burn as much as your standard onion. They still give the meal that much needed umphy crunch.
Olives, olives yes I love oliveesss….
I serve up a small bowl of Kalamata olives on the side for some random bursts of bitterness to round everything out. My olives always have the stone in them. None of this pitted olive rubbish. Pitted olives are rubbery and lack flavour. Trust me on this one, olives with their stone in are the best. Hands down every time.
There’s so much going on with all the flavours and textures bouncing around that everything needed to be calmed down a bit. But in a subtle way. So I chose a simple cucumber and tomato salad dressed Nothing fancy. Just some dried mint and salt to give another element of crunch. But this time the crisp kind of crunch. Plus some coolness and freshness to balance out the heavy sauce and beans.
- 1 red onion diced
- 1 garlic clove finely diced/minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 500 g passata
- 1 capful red wine vinegar
- 230 g cannellini Beans
- 100 g red lentils
- 250 ml water
Cucumber & Tomato Salad
- 1 large cucumber
- 5 tomatoes
- sprinkling dried mint
- 200 g feta
- drizzle extra virgin olive oil (about 1 teaspoon)
- sprinkling dried oregano
- handful of parsley
- Kalamata olives with the stones in (as many as you like)
- spring onions or onion of your choice (you choose how much you can handle)
- 1 crusty loaf
- chopping board
- non-stick frying pan
- Dice your onion and finely dice or mince your garlic clove
- Heat your oil in a non-stick pan
- When the oil is hot add your diced onions and sauté (fry quickly) on a medium heat until the onions have turned a nice caramel colour and they have started to sweeten
- Add your minced garlic and carry on sautéing until the garlic is also a caramel colour and they taste sweet
- Add your passata (500g) and give everything a good stir
- Add a capful of red wine vinegar to cut the richness of the passata and balance out the sweetness from the onion and garlic
- Season with salt and pepper, give it all another good stir and simmer on a low heat uncovered for a few minutes so all the flavours can mingle
- Add 230g of cannellini beans and stir so all the beans are covered with the sauce
- Add in 100g of red lentils and stir again
- Add in some water (250ml) to loosen up the sauce so the beans and lentils don't stick to the bottom of the pan and leave to simmer away uncovered for around 15 minutes or when the sauce has thickened and the lentils are aldente, not raw or hard but when you bite into them they split in half rather than melt into a mush
Cucumber & Tomato Salad
- Peel and dice your cucumber
- Chop your tomatoes into chunks, no need to be precise we're going for the rustic homely feel
- Put into a bowl and sprinkle with some dried mint and salt
- Drizzle olive oil over your feta and sprinkle over some dried oregano
- Now go and check on your beans and give them a good stir making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan
- If your beans or lentils are sticking to the bottom of the pan add a splash of water to unstick them
- Leave them to carry on simmering
- Finely chop your parsley
- Sprinkle parsley over your beans
- Sprinkle some feta over the beans too
- Serve up some crunchy spring onions or onions of your choice to go with the feta cheese because cheese and onion are a perfect match
- Serve up some bitter Kalamata olives too
To Eat Out of the Pan Style
- Rip a piece off of your crusty loaf and dip into your beans mmmm.....
- Dip your onion of choice into your beans mmmm....
- Dip your olives into your beans mmmm....
- Dip your cucumber and tomatoes into your beans mmmm....
To Eat Posh Beans on Toast Style
- Slice up some bread and toast it
- Cover your toasted bread with the beans and VOILA! "Posh Beans on Toast" mmmm.... mmmm.... mmmm. Beans never tasted soooooooo........ GOOD!
- To get your parsley really fine check my posh beans on toast video where I give you a great easy tip.
- The calories I've stated above are for the beans only. I didn't add the calories for the bread because it depends on the type of bread you choose and the same too applies with the sides.