This is an easy Greek traditional recipe for baked giant beans (gigantes). The flavor of this dish is surprisingly different than regular beans and it almost smells like pizza!
I said this recipe is easy, and it is, but easy doesn’t always mean quick. You’ll have to do a little scheduling and soak the beans overnight for the best and creamiest results. After they’re baked, this creamy interior comes in contrast with the charred tops (which also give this dish a hint of smokiness) creating a great, healthy meal, that happens to be vegan, gluten-free and a great source of plant-based protein.
Some recipes for Greek baked giant beans (Gigantes Plaki) require cooking the tomato sauce separately and then combine everything in a pan. I find it a lot easier (and with less cleanup) to just add all of the ingredients to the pan and let them bake in the oven for about an hour. This way, the sauce has enough time to caramelize and get a hint of smokiness from the charred tops of the beans and vegetables.
Also, celery is often used but I happen to prefer parsley. In the ingredient list I give you both options, so feel free to choose whatever you like best.
WHAT TO DO FOR THE GIGANTES TO STAY PRETTY
- Maybe the most important thing you should do first is to buy good quality giant beans. They should have been produced the same year and their skin should not look flaky and old.
- Also, you’ll need to soak them in fresh water for at least 12 hours, or even better for 24 hours. If the water in your region is hard, use bottled water.
- After that, rinse them well and simmer slowly until they become tender. Taste one to check for doneness.
- When the beans are done, if you drain them while they’re still hot, their skins will peel-off and they won’t look good. To prevent this, drain half of the water from the pot and refill with tap water to bring the temperature down. If they’re still hot after 5 minutes, repeat this 1-2 times more.
- Bake them in the oven with the sauce at a high temperature, until they’re slightly charred on top.
- Soak the beans for at least 12 hours or more. This will give them the chance to hydrate properly and cook more evenly.
- Simmer the beans in a pot filled with soft water and don’t add any salt. Remove from the heat only when they’re tender.
- Layer the beans on the pan in a thin layer. For this, you’ll need a large pan or casserole dish.
- Bake at a high temperature until almost all of the liquids have evaporated.
Greek Baked Giant Beans (Gigantes Plaki)
Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 2 hrs | Total Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
- 1 pound 450 grams dried giant beans
- 1/4 cup olive oil (Buy your Greek extra virgin olive oil here)
- 1 onion, finely chopped or grated
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 3 cups pureed tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped parsley or celery
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
- Freshly grounded black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
- 2 cups water or vegetable stock
- Soak the beans in a large bowl with plenty of water for at least 12 hours (24 hours will work best). Rinse them well and transfer them in large pot. Fill with enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches and bring to a simmer. Skim any foam from the surface and cook until tender (about 1 hour). Remove from the heat.
- Preheat your oven to 390°F (200°C). Drain half of the water from the pot and refill with fresh water (this will cool the beans and will help them not to peel-off when drained). Stir gently and let them sit until you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Drain the beans and transfer them to a large casserole dish or baking pan. Add the rest of the ingredients except the water and mix well. Add enough water to just cover them.
- Bake for about 60 minutes or until almost all of the liquids have evaporated.
- Serve with bread and olives. Eat!
About The Hungry Bites
Born and raised on the Greek island of Crete, Makos Efthimis (aka The Hungry Bites) learned to appreciate the value of the Mediterranean diet from a young age. He grew up watching his mother and grandmother everyday as they went back and forth with spatulas, spoons and knives on hand, tirelessly chopping vegetables, greens and fruits and cooking traditional Cretan foods. His blog includes a bit of everything — one pan recipes, healthy dishes and some gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian recipes — but mainly centers around Mediterranean cuisine. For dozens of other authentic Mediterranean recipes, visit The Hungry Bites here and follow along on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Bloglovin.
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