There are some recipes that are so simple, you never give them a second thought. Giant beans bake, gigantes sto fourno is just one of these. In all the time I have been blogging, I never thought of bringing this Greek classic into the list. Here we are though: giant beans bake – gigantes plaki, a super easy recipe.
Head straight to the recipe.
Gigantes sto fourno is a love or hate relationship. If you like your pulses, you will definitely love it. The beans are slowly baked in a rich tomato sauce, sprinkled with a bit of dried mint and sweet paprika. I admit, it’s not the most photogenic of plates. As with most Greek dishes, a bath in tomato sauce turns everything deep red and if there is one thing you cannot call them is pretty. But how delicious these are! Once you try, you will never go back. Smooth to the bite, earthy in the tongue, comfort food in every bite.
Giant beans is a true vegan Greek dish, very popular during lent. Of course it’s not limited to this, it’s just that we re-discover it every year on Clean Monday – just at the beginning of the fasting period. As a mezze though, it is always at the menu of traditional Greek tavernas waiting patiently for you to grab it. It makes an excellent sharing dish and a hearty main (if sometimes you don’t feel like sharing it’s ok – get 2 two helpings).
The trouble with giant beans? They are a bit fussy to prepare. It’s not a fry up to quickly prepare as you walk in from work. The beans need soaking and boiling to soften, so place them in a bowl of water the night before and boil the next day. If you remember this, the recipe is a no-brainer. You bake and serve. Let’s make them:
Giant beans bake – gigantes sto fourno
- 500 gr butter beans (giant beans)
- 120 ml olive oil
- 2 medium red onions, chopped
- 500 gr chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika, or a couple of chillies if you like spicy
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- a sprig of parsley to decorate
How to make them:
- Place the beans in a bowl of cold water the night before and let them soak.
- When ready to cook, place in a pot full of salted water, bring the beans to the boil and simmer until soft (30-40 minutes). Once boiled, don’t drain, remove from the pot with a skimmer ladle so that the beans can keep a bit of their broth. Don’t discard the rest of the broth you can use it in step 4. Place the beans in a baking tray.
- In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil and add in the onions. Cook until translucent but not browned. Continue by adding in the tomato paste and paprika and cook for a minute. It’s time for the chopped tomatoes to join the pot. Bring to the boil and cook the sauce for 10 minutes.
- Return to the baking tray with the beans, sprinkle the flour to coat the beans and a bit more of the dried mint. When ready, pour in the tomato sauce and mix well. The sauce should be runny, if it seems too thick add a bit of warm water or the broth when you boiled the beans (step 1).
- Place the gigantes in a preheated oven at 180C for approximately 40 minutes, covered. Don’t forget to check for liquids when mid-ways baking. They shouldn’t run out, you want the sauce to be runny because it thickens as soon as it reaches room temperature. Add a bit of the beans broth (Step1) or warm water.
Make sure you have a lovely loaf of bread and suitable liquor. Enjoy in good company. Oh yes, don’t forget the feta cheese!
From Athens with love,