Although dill is a key ingredient, this dish is all about the bean. Happily it also uses a fair few tomatoes, as i have a glut of both tomatoes and beans at present (not to mention courgettes and basil). Don't get me wrong; this is a happy space to be in! I love having an abundance of fresh produce to use from my garden, and cooking at present is very much centred on these ingredients.
This recipe started life as "Mizrahi Bean Casserole". I was given the recipe by the wife of my husband's best friend, so in my recipe book it is called "Hokianga Barb's Bean Casserole". Then i made it on a work trip several years back, and my co-workers loved it. Robyn was always pleased to hear that i was making the 'delicious dill dish', and coined the name 'Dilldicious" for it.
I used my 'French green fillet dwarf' beans for this dish last night; with larger beans you might want to chop them in half, but the green fillet dwarfs are small enough that i like to leave them whole.
The recipe makes quite a large amount; it is a great one for freezing, although i tend to not add green beans to the portions that i am freezing - take out whatever you're wanting to freeze before adding the fresh beans, and just add the green beans when you reheat the meal. The original recipe calls for all beans to be added at the same time, and then simmer for a minimum of half an hour - i think this destroys the pleasure of a fresh green bean, so i just add whatever canned beans i'm using prior to the long simmer, and add the green beans at the last minute, so they retain their lovely vibrant green-ness and just a hint of crunch.
If you don't have dill, you can use fennel in its place, for a similar aniseedy flavour (i've used roadside fennel on a number of occasions), but don't use as much - fennel has a harsher flavour than the delicate sweetness of dill. You will probably find you also need to chop aniseed more finely, as it tends to be a bit stringier/chewier than dill. It is possible to buy dried dill, but this is a waste of time and money; dried dill is tragically tasteless.
Use a little less than the stated amount of sugar if you must, but don't be tempted to omit the sugar entirely - it helps the dill offset the acidity of the tomatoes. My tinned legume of preference (or of course you can substitute dried beans that have been soaked and cooked) is the chickpea, but butter beans are also very nice. Any sort of pale coloured bean will work well. If you are feeling adventurous you could try black beans or kidney beans, although i myself am not a great fan of the kidney bean.
Serves 6 easily
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 medium onions, halved and sliced
3 medium carrots, julienned
3 cans tomatoes or equivalent of fresh tomatoes, chopped
70g tomato puree (if needed)
Big bunch of fresh dill, or substitute a much smaller quantity of fennel
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed.
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 can beans of your choice (chickpeas, butter, lima, haricot beans etc)
400g fresh beans
Heat the olive oil in a very large fry pan. Simmer the onions and carrots slowly over a medium-low heat. Do not let them brown. Once the onions are transparent add the tomatoes. Squish them up and add a dollop of tomato puree if needed to improve on colour and flavour (this is usually required when using tinned tomatoes, but shouldn't be needed when using home-grown fresh tomatoes).
Add fresh dill, the more the merrier, reserving a few fronds for garnish. Add the garlic and sugar, then add salt to taste. Now add the canned beans, cover your pan and simmer on an incredibly low heat; the longer the better (but no less than half an hour). Don't let it dry out - add water if necessary. About 5 minutes before serving add the fresh green beans and simmer until they are just tender.
Serve on rice or couscous or in bowls with fresh crusty bread to accompany.