Tender Greek Roasted Beans in Tomato Sauce –Gigantes Plaki

June 28, 2013

Gigantes plakiThis is a dish that really exemplifies the wisdom of Greek-Mediterranean cuisine. Beans were one of the main ingredients in the traditional Mediterranean diet, particularly for Greeks who due to the long periods of religious fasting (over 200 days a year) that prohibited most animal products, beans were the main source of protein. As a result, Greek cuisine has several bean dishes as main courses. One of them is known as Gigantes Plaki. Gigantes are a type of large white bean, the word gigantas in Greek means giant. Gigantes from several areas of Greece have a Protected Geographical Indication status due to the unique environment that these beans are grown in. If you can find these beans it is worth a try otherwise butter beans wil work.

This recipe combines beans which are of course a great source of protein, antioxidants and fiber, while the addition of tomato not only makes them tastier but the vitamin C in the tomato helps increase the absorption of iron from the beans. Plaki refers to the method of cooking which means basically baking in the oven with a sauce made with tomato, onion, garlic and parsley.

The recipe is easy and even though the cooking time is somewhat long, active prep time is very short. You basically soak the beans in water overnight, boil them, prepare an easy sauce, mix everything together and bake.

This is a delicious dish that is more recently served as an appetizer to accompany an ouzo or other drinks, but it is a complete meal and it is vegan. If you eat dairy it goes wonderfully with feta and the always present, slice of bread.

Gigantes Plaki

Tender Greek Roasted Beans in Tomato Sauce –Gigantes Plaki

Yield: 4-5

Tender Greek Roasted Beans in Tomato Sauce –Gigantes Plaki

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Gigantes or butter beans (soak them in water overnight)
  • 2 tomatoes grated or diced or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with a bit of water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak the beans overnight, the longer, the better.
  2. Preheat oven at 350 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
  3. Drain and rinse the beans and boil in water for about 40 minutes to an hour, until they are soft but not mushy. Make sure you boil them enough; otherwise the beans will be too hard to eat even after baking.
  4. In the meantime prepare the sauce. Sauté the onion in a bit of olive on low heat until soft and add the garlic cloves whole. If you want a stronger garlic flavor you can mince the garlic.
  5. Add the tomato (this time I used cherry tomatoes that I cut in thin slices, but the traditional way is grating the tomato), the tomato paste, parsley, salt and pepper to taste and about ¼ cup olive oil. Let it simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
  6. Once the beans have boiled, drain them and put them back into the pot, add the sauce and mix gently. Pour the mixture in a pan and spread evenly and then pour about another ¼ cup olive oil over the beans and bake for about 50 minutes until beans are tender.
  7. Accompany with feta cheese and bread.

Photos by Elena Paravantes

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53 Comments

  • Reply Mediterranean Black-Eyed Peas with Honey Vinaigrette | Olive Tomato October 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    […] Greeks have several ways of eating beans, which I discuss here. They are mostly prepared stewed or roasted in the oven, and they are delicious. Today, I felt like having a somewhat salad-like bean dish.  […]

    • Reply KEITH AMBLER May 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      I have been ( bean) growing these Gigantic Greek beans for several years and bought my first bean seeds from the Real Seed Co. in Pembroke. When you harvest them you keep the biggest 20 or 30 beans to replant and dry them on top of the central heating boiler. Use a metal tray with some kitchen roll or an old cloth so that there is not too much direct heat. The drying time is about 3 to 5 days. Keep the seeds in thick envelopes in a dry cool dark place for the next spring . Treat the bean plants as you would runner beans. i.e. they are susceptible to frost . Start them inside or in a greenhouse and plant out at the end of May or early June. Harvest the beans around the end of September when the pods have turned brown.
      It is an immensely rewarding experience to grow your own food and then cook and eat it with friends and family.

      • Reply Elena May 31, 2017 at 5:35 am

        Thank you for sharing! I agree it is wonderful to able to grow your own food

  • Reply Rita January 30, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Will definately try

  • Reply Dylan February 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Awesome! The only way I’ve been able to get my fix has been those expensive little Zanae cans. This is a game changer!!!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD March 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

      Dylan,
      Canned beans are fine too. Just watch out for the salt.

  • Reply Carole March 16, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    What a brilliant recipe. Reminiscent of Kefalonia, thanks a lot!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD March 20, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Thanks Carole!

  • Reply Yanni L. April 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    The only way to really enjoy this and many other Greek foods is in the
    small back yard of a village house with vine covered pergolas. A large plate of gigantes, dolmades, feta cheese drizzled with a little oil Kalamata olives, fresh bread and a bottle of chilled retsina or ouzo, and for good measure some gentle bouzouki in the background.That’s what I am going to do a little later this year.
    Kaliorexi!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD April 2, 2014 at 6:38 am

      Thanks Yanni! A wonderful meal and scene indeed!

      • Reply Tracey Posner January 18, 2016 at 1:56 am

        I completely agree with that! Oh how I miss living in the Mediterranean! The picture Yanni painted in my mind took me back. I, too, as Dylan said, the only way I have been able to enjoy them until now is in the can. Not bad, but I’d MUCH rather have control over the salt that goes into it.
        I can’t tell you how excited I am to have found this recipe! I have my beans soaking now and I look forward to an amazing dish tomorrow! Feta, some fresh made dolmas, and fresh bread. I am SO back in the Mediterranean!

  • Reply Hilary Hahn April 13, 2014 at 1:41 am

    This is one of my favorite recipes! I just love Greek restaurants that carry this dish:)
    Now, I will have to try making it myself at home.
    Any idea if Fava beans would work? At times i have trouble finding large white beans in California.

    • Reply john mobbs October 1, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      I googled greek deli and got a list of online shops that sold them. Try that. I live in the uk and I order from the Greek Deli in London

  • Reply Michael Petersen April 13, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    I just put it in the oven. This makes the fifth time I have made this recipe it is absolutely delicious!!! I’ve been using your recioes since discovering your site 4 months ago, and have cooked nothing but Greek foods they are wonderful thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Reeshiez May 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I love gigante beans as they remind me of a bean we have back home in the Middle East which is very similar. Problem is that I’m either never able to find them or when I do they are extremely expensive. What substitute would you recommend for gigante beans? Thanks

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD May 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Reeshiez, You can look for broad beans or lima beans. Or you can try the recipe by just using regular white beans too.

    • Reply Dave Aspden October 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Just grow your own. They are easy grow – just like runner bean but you leave them on the vine until they they mature.
      They are available online from Real Seeds.
      Regards Dave (Gloucester)

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

        Thanks for the tip Dave!

  • Reply Anonymous May 30, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Butter beans are good also

  • Reply Denise June 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Why is there so much olive oil

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD June 8, 2014 at 7:02 am

      Denise,
      The Mediterranean diet is characterized by the use of olive oil as the main source of fat,the Greek Mediterranean version and particularly Cretan which the Med diet was based on, used large amounts of olive oil. With this diet they consumed large amounts of vegetables and beans thanks to the help of olive oil. With this recipe you make 4-5 servings, which corresponds to about 2 tablespoons (there will be some oil left in the pan).You may use less, but it will not taste the same. You may find this link useful: http://www.olivetomato.com/five-steps-to-eat-more-like-a-mediterranean-this-year-step-1-dont-be-afraid-of-the-olive-oil/

  • Reply Lynn Matassa August 3, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I am trying this dish for the first time, I found the beans fresh at my local grocery store, when I take them out of the pod do I still have to soak them like the dried beans and boil them or can I skip those two steps and go right to baking them in oven………Thanks.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD August 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

      Hi Lynn,
      Since they are fresh they would probably not need soaking. But I would still boil them, perhaps for less time, until they are somewhat soft.

  • Reply Mia September 15, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Try to find the huge white beans (they are bigger than butter or lima beans) in turkish supermarkets or asian supermarkets..replace your italian oregano with the greek oregano…you will be closer to the authentic Gigantes than you already are with this little finetuning

  • Reply Michelle October 22, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Depending on the area of the country (USA) you’re in, try ALDI food stores. I get Gigantes (exactly that on the label) for about $1.25 a can! I always grab 4-5 when I’m there. If you haven’t tried ALDI and you have one, DO! A German-based company and you’ll find that most of their foods are largely unadulterated…even process foods lack the stuff we’re supposed to avoid. The prices are unbelievable and THEY HAVE GIGANTES! 🙂

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 27, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Thank for sharing Michelle!

    • Reply Sandy December 18, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Not in my area Aldi markets, they’re not carrying gigantes! 🙁 They, however, are expanding their organic produce, seeing more and more organics, thankfully, so I am visiting more often. Maybe I’ll speak with managers and ask if Gignates are available. Thanks!

  • Reply 10 Greek Food Ingredients to Add to Your Diet Now | Olive Tomato November 30, 2014 at 8:50 am

    […] Traditionally: Soup or roasted in tomato sauce – recipe […]

  • Reply susan October 12, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Greetings from Canada. I made this dish today. Thanks to your recipe it was amazing. I haven’t had this food in over 25 years and it tasted exactly how I remember eating it in Greece.

    Opa,

    susan c.

  • Reply Clare Kalafatis October 17, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Just about to make this with butter beans, I’m sure it’s ging to be delicious. With feta and wine! ☺️

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 24, 2015 at 5:45 am

      Yummy! Hope you enjoyed it!

  • Reply PAT November 1, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    At what point should the beans be shellled? Or isn’t that necessary?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD November 2, 2015 at 6:45 am

      Hi Pat, No you do not need to shell the beans.

  • Reply How to Follow the Mediterranean Diet During Fall and Winter in 10 Simple Steps | Olive Tomato December 10, 2015 at 10:11 am

    […] Diet. Traditional ways of preparing them are in the form of thick soups such as this lentil soup or roasted beans. You can also consume them as a salad using olive oil and lemon as a dressing. Beans are often also […]

  • Reply Kara January 31, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Hello! I have recently stumbled across your site and am a huge fan so far! If you were going to serve this as a main dish, what would you recommend to go with it?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD February 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Kara, I would serve this with cheese (feta), bread and it would also go well with cured or fresh sardines or anchovies. Or yu could a pita (pie) like spinach pie or cheese pi.

  • Reply Dried Beans & Legumes - Cook Times | Peeled and Cored February 15, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    […] can fill a teaspoon.  Often baked, the most popular preparation is in tomato sauce in traditional Gigandes plaki.  Because of their smooth texture, they also pair well with an herb vinaigrette and served […]

  • Reply Jillian February 21, 2016 at 5:10 am

    These beans are SO delicious! I made them a few weeks ago and meant to say so…but I’m making them again today. Going to use some smaller white beans as I have them on hand, and the big ones are rather pricey here in Japan. They flavors are simple but great, so I’m sure they’ll still turn out great.
    Thanks for your delicious recipes!!

  • Reply Maria March 9, 2016 at 1:24 am

    Elena, this recipe is delicious! I think it is the third time I’ve made it and this was the best ever. I used two sweet onions and cooked them over low heat while the beans cooked. I order dried gigantes from an online Greek store since we don’t have a Mediterranean grocery store in my town.

    I really love your website. I have made many of your recipes and each has been exactly the way we enjoy eating in our home. Thank you so much for the time and care you put into your posts.

    By the way, I have the identical bowl that you show in the second picture (the white one with the handle). It’s been in our family since I was a little kid!

  • Reply Lorene June 11, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I would like to” can” or pressure can this recipe . Has anyone ever tried to do so?
    Tender Greek Roasted Beans in Tomato Sauce –Gigantes Plaki

  • Reply Greek Style Roasted White Beans with Vegetables | Olive Tomato August 8, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    […] to the mix for some extra protein, fiber and satiety. One of my favorite bean dish is the popular Gigantes, which is basically giant white beans cooked with tomato, they are delicious! For a different […]

  • Reply Ellen Nordal December 3, 2016 at 1:29 am

    When I soak the beans I get partially separated skins that look and feel like stiff plastic. It takes a lot of time rubbing and sifting to try to get them all out. I do not see mention of the skins in your recipe, do you usually just leave them in the dish?

    • Reply Elena December 3, 2016 at 7:25 am

      After you boil them, drain and rinse and you can remove any skins at that point.

  • Reply The Baked Gigandes Experiment | The Pantry Portfolio January 5, 2017 at 2:23 am

    […] her for her recipe but was able to find a few variations online that seem close – so I used this one as a guide for this dish.  I located the beans at a local greek market and found the process very […]

  • Reply Avoid Holiday Weight Gain with this Simple Greek Diet Strategy | Olive Tomato January 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

    […] Luscious, tender baked beans in a tomato-herb sauce. A traditional Greek dish bursting with flavor and nutrients. GET THE RECIPE […]

  • Reply Beans, A Mediterranean Diet Staple May be the Secret to Lower Cholesterol | Olive Tomato January 8, 2017 at 11:15 am

    […] olive and accompany with a piece of cheese. You can also try a few recipes that I have shared here, here and […]

  • Reply Greek Roasted Beans with Spinach- Gigantes me Spanaki | Olive Tomato February 8, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    […] such as greens, meat, rice and even fish. The famous “gigantes” beans that are usually cooked with tomato cooked and this version is more of a wintery recipe combining these white beans with spinach. The […]

  • Reply VANITHA RIGATOS February 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I love your site and recipes. I am cooking more medditaran Greek foods now and feel healthier. Thank you so much for your time

    • Reply Elena February 17, 2017 at 6:51 am

      Thank you Vanitha!

  • Reply Victoria April 5, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    BEST DISH I”VE EVER MADE!!!!

    • Reply Elena April 7, 2017 at 5:12 am

      Thanks Victoria!

  • Reply Cheryl May 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    You can order dried beans from Rancho Gordo in Napa, Ca. They carry several types of white beans. This is only place I order beans from. Also, I love your website!!

  • Reply Gail Wilkins August 17, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    I added 1 piece of star anise to simmer and this recipe came alive like you wouldn’t believe! Give it a try 😉

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