Thursday, May 14, 2009

Egyptian Style White Beans

We eat a lot of beans at our house because they are such a great source of low fat protein. Great Northern Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which is as effective at reducing cholesterol as oat bran. Beans are also high in potassium and magnesium, which helps to keep your blood pressure under control. Additionally beans have a low glycemic index making them an excellent protein source for diabetics, or anyone concerned about their blood sugar.

All the other ingredients in this recipe are good for you and have a place in a healthy diet. Please don’t be tempted to leave the olive oil out of this dish. Having a healthy fat in this dish allows your body to process the fat soluble vitamins.

Egyptian Style Great Northern Beans
Makes 6 – 8 servings if serving with bread or other grain


16 ounce bag of dried great northern beans
3 bay leaves, dried
water to cover beans by 4 inches
4 cloves of garlic, grated (allowed to sit for 10 minutes to allow the allicin to develop)
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 red onion, finely minced
zest and juice of one lemon
15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
small handful of fresh parsley, minced – optional, for garnish
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil – optional for garnish


Pick through dried great northern beans removing any foreign matter, broken or shriveled beans. Place beans in slow cooked and cover with enough water to have 4 inches of water above the beans. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours. Test the beans for tenderness. At 8 hours my beans were almost too soft. If they are tender enough for you drain the beans and remove the bay leaves, while you start the sauce. Reserve about a cup of the bean cooking liquid in case you need a little more liquid in your sauce.

In heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the cumin and continue to cook until you smell the cumin. Then add the tomatoes, lemon and beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. The cumin flavor will be more pronounced the second day.

Traditionally this would be served with pita bread. I sometimes put it over brown rice or millet. You can also garnish the beans with more fresh lemon zest and minced cilantro or parsley and/or a little drizzle of fresh extra virgin olive oil, if desired.


This bean dish has much more flavor than you would expect from such a short list of ingredients. Sometimes I take the leftover beans and mash them in a food processor and serve this as a bean dip. The lemon flavor is very prominent in this dish. If you aren't a big fan of lemon I would start with half the juice and zest.

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