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Aug 22, 2012 09:40 AM

Making those vinegary marinated big white beans you see in deli or olive bar

At an olive bar and at an Italian deli I've seen these big white beans (not sure if they're cannellini's or other variety) that are in an oily and acidic (vinegary) marinade with what looks like roasted sweet peppers and other herbs and aromatics. I think they are always served cold.

I don't know what this is called, and I'm not quite sure how to reproduce this at home. My son LOVES these and I'd like to figure out how to reproduce these at home instead of buying them.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. You think you are referring to gigantes?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rasputina

      I have seen "gigantes" that look like the big white beans, but I've only seen them jarred at Trader Joe's in some sort of red-sauce. So perhaps the same bean, but much different preparation.

    2. Are you thinking of lupini?

      If so, a good prep/primer is here.

      4 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        Nah, those aren't it... they look more like giant cannellini beans that have been dressed/marinated with some herbs and bits of sweet pepper.

          1. re: pinehurst

            Hmmm... the lima beans I'm familiar with (Christmas lima's) are dark colored, purple-ish, but this actually seems to resemble it pretty closely, thank you!

            1. re: nasv

              No,. Christmas lima beans are actually not a common variety in markets. "Lima" translates as "bean", which is why we use lima bean as the name for several varieties.
              What you want is NOT the pale green, fairly flat bean sold frozen, canned, and as part of succotash. Look instead at what is sold in cans as "butter beans". They are larger, buttery in color, and milder in flavor than the smaller, green lima. If buying the dry version of butter beans, you want "large dry lima beans". Most supermarkets sell them alongside the bagged lentils and split peas. There's also a small dry lima bean, which is the same off-white color, and similar in flavor to the large so I don't think it's the dried version of the green lima. The butter/dried large lima bean tastes the same as the gigantes, to me, but is a lot cheaper and easier to find. You need to soak the dried beans and cook gently if you want to avoid the skins coming off entirely. Some people like to remove them, however. When trying to duplicate the deli item, I'd use the canned version so I didn't have to fuss over the texture. Once I had the other ingredients worked out, I'd go back and figure out how to combine them with limas I cooked at home.

      2. I think what you are referring to are actually Fava Beans. You are starting to see them more and more in the U.S. in the produce dept.

        1 Reply
        1. re: robt5265

          No, not favas, I'm familiar with fresh and dried favas. The ones I'm thinking more closely resemble cannellini beans or bigger. I think they could be the "gigantes" mentioned earlier.

        2. I know the salad you mean, and it's good. I've never made it from a recipe, but this looks close:

          4 Replies
            1. re: Whippet

              I made this recently and while it was OK, it was nowhere near as good as the stuff from the Whole Foods antipasto bar. I even added some roasted red peppers for extra flavor, but still meh.

              Also, when I soaked the beans overnight, they practically exploded, splitting at the seams to the point where they looked ghastly. Oddly, after cooking they came back together somewhat, but still didn't have that firm creaminess of the store-bought. Maybe they were too old? How can you tell if beans are too old when you buy them?

              1. re: BobB

                Somewhere on the bag, often hard to find (it may be on the seam, is a date. Old beans are still usable but if you need them to cook perfectly, try to use them by their best by date.

                1. re: BobB

                  I was gifted a bag of rancho gordo beans a long time ago and it changed everything.... Using "heirloom beans", or some from a local farm makes a huge huge difference for simple bean dishes like this one.
                  In that recipe linked i would have added some garlic to the marinade as well as adding fresh lemon juice just before serving- IMO green bell peppers have no place here, your use of the roasted red pepper is a good idea.

              2. They are called fagioli di Spagna in Italian and are pretty much the same as gigantes. Also called white Spanish beans in English. As for making the salad, you're on your own, but I agree, it's a great dish.