I’m really pleased to share another of my family’s recipes with you, this time my mum’s awesome Greek giant baked beans. Known as Gigantes or Yigantes, this is a perfect autumn-winter dish and pretty simple to make. The word ‘gigantes’ in Greek means giant, and if you’ve seen these on a menu listed as Gigantes Plaki, the ‘plaki’ refers to a dish being cooked in a tomato based sauce.
Everyone makes this differently and as always, you can add a little of this or that. My mum doesn’t use garlic in her recipe and I think they’re fine without it but if you want to add some when sauteeing the veggies, go ahead! If you don’t like dill, you can add a little fresh parsley instead. If you want to make this an oil free dish, that’s fine too– you can just do the sautee step in a little broth or water.
Some recipes in cookbooks and online include the addition of sugar. I personally don’t think it’s needed and when I’ve tried the tinned ready made gigantes, they’re always a bit too sweet for me.
The cooking process is pretty straightforward and I’ve put together this little step by step photo illustration to tie in with the instructions further down:
If you want to soak your giant beans overnight, go ahead. Mum says she never bothers and when she has soaked the beans, it makes no difference to the finished meal. Not soaking may mean your stove top cooking takes a bit longer.
The gigantes shown in my photos here are quite thick without a heap of sauce. We kinda forgot to take the beans out of the oven earlier so there’s not as much liquid butttt this isn’t necessarily a problem because I love them this way too! If you like slightly more soupy, you can reduce the cooking time.
Simple, delicious and nutritious! These beans are great on toast too 🙂
Gigantes: Greek Giant Baked Beans
Perfect for autumn and winter, this classic Greek dish is both easy to make and delicious. No need for the tinned versions or waiting for your next trip to a Greek restaurant!
Optional step: Soak your beans overnight if you prefer. Make sure the beans are well covered in water. Drain and rinse the beans.
Put the beans in a large pot and fill the pot with water until the water is about one and half inches above the beans. Bring to a boil then simmer until the beans are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Test three beans by gently squeezing them. If you've soaked your beans beforehand, check around the 20 minute mark onwards. The beans should not feel mushy. Drain the beans in to a colander and let them sit while you prepare the veggies.
Preheat your oven to 180C (or the 'moderate' setting).
In the same pot, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sautee the carrots, onion and celery until tender on a medium heat.
Add the drained beans to the veggie mixture in the pot. Sprinkle over the paprika and stir gently.
Put the 500ml of passata in a large jug and add enough water to make one litre. Stir the tomato-water mixture and mix it in with the beans and veggies.
Add another litre of water to the beans and veg and stir gently. Add in the salt, chopped dill and optional 2 tablespoons of olive oil. It will look like a very runny watery soup-- don't despair!
Mix everything well then pour in to a large baking dish or casserole dish. Add pepper to taste if you like or more salt. Cover the dish tightly with foil and cook for about 40 minutes, checking at the half hour mark.
Remove the foil and cook for another ten minutes. Keep an eye on the level of liquid in the beans. You don't want them to dry out!
Remove from the oven when the beans are to your liking-- either with a fair bit of sauciness or more a thick stew. Keep in mind the mixture thickens more the next day.
Serve the gigantes on their own, or with thick chunks of bread.
I've listed 30 to 40 minutes as the passive cooking time-- this is for the beans cooking on the stove before they go in the oven.
If you don't like dill, add in a little chopped flat leaf parsley to your liking.
If you are oil-free, sautee the veggies in some broth or water.
If you want more of a garlic flavour, add a large clove of finely chopped garlic to the pot when you sautee the veggies.
Some people like to pre-cook the beans with a dried bay leaf in the water.