This 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.
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Gigantes Plaki – Tender Greek Roasted Beans in Tomato Sauce
- 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
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Soak the beans overnight, the longer, the better.
- Preheat oven at 350 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 40 minutes until beans are tender.
- Accompany with feta cheese and bread.
I have just finished this recipe. My husband is not home yet but it is so good I am considering eating his portion.
Hello! Could you estimate the amount of crushed tomatoes I should substitute for grated tomatoes? We can’t get good fresh tomatoes in Canada in winter so I would like to try making this with crushed tomatoes.
I suggest busing “fire roasted pear shaped tomatoes”, 1 28 oz can should be about right. Fire roasted taste so much better than regular canned ones. I just don ‘t buy the non-roasted ones since I deiscovered these.
I made this today for lunch. Only thing I changed is that I used 2 cans of beans instead of homemade, for time saving. I absolutely did not want to take the time to bake it….but I did. Ooooh my word! This is HEAVENLY! Absolutely one of the best foods I’ve ever eaten. Yum yum yum. Seriously delicious!! Thank you I will ABSOLUTELY be making this again. Maybe tomorrow. Haha.
*canned butter beans.
Wonderful! Happy you enjoyed it Kathy!
Hi Elena. I live in Portugal and haven’t been able to find gigantes or butter beans. Do you have an alternative? Would fava beans work?
Thank you, can’t wait to try this recipe!
Hi Debbie, Yes you can use fava beans.
Just bought your fabulous cookbook. I have been browsing your site for a long time. We are switching from KETO to Mediterranean Diet and your book makes it easy. Made this today. It was easy and delicious. Love the layout of the book.
Thank you Jeanne! You may find this post useful too as you are switching from keto: https://www.olivetomato.com/how-to-switch-from-a-keto-diet-to-a-mediterranean-diet/
Yassis! I got hooked on this dish on my first trip to Greece in 1983 and have been looking for a recipe that tasted as good, I’m so glad I stumbled across your site years ago, this is definitely 100% authentic, right down to the feta and ouzo. Bless you for keeping our traditions alive❣❣your recipes bring tears to my eyes everytime I make one. Makes me want to go back to Greece and stay…
This is the second time I’ve made this recipe. We eat beans regularly, and wanted to try something different. Bought Gigantes from Amazon. So glad I did! This dish will be in our regular rotation as a welcome change from the standard Great Northerns, Pintos and Red Beans.
Incredibly delicious. Left the garlic out for my husband but followed exactly otherwise and had to refrain from eating most of it…
used dry baby Lima beans.
can i use canned pintos. I often have to cook for one; don’t want to order beans. what do you think?
Because I think these beans are so beautiful, I went online and ordered some Gigantes-Elephantes beans from West Macedonia/Kastoria, according to the package. The brand is Arosis. According to the reviews of various available beans, some people had problems with quality. Mine were perfect. I soaked them for about 18 hours. They took about one hour to cook. I like my beans a little bit “al dente”, so others may want to cook them longer. I followed the recipe as is and it came out good. These beans made me smile. Tomorrow, I think I will add a bit more olive oil and maybe a sprinkle of oregano because Elena’s mother says. I wish I had some Feta, but it cost over $90 for 7+ lbs. online. I guess I’ll make do with fake feta, besides I could never eat that much before it spoiled.
Thanks for sharing Gail! 7 pounds is a bit much to buy all at once. Arosis is a good brand, Kastoria is an area known for these particular beans.
I made this tonight and, as with every other recipe I have made from this website (which is quite a few!), this was delicious!! I look forward to cooking every night now that I have found this website :-). Thank you Elena!
Thank you Marcia!!
“The Best Book of Greek Cookery” by Chrissa Paradissis is known as the bible of Greek recipes. But your Gigantes Plaki is so much better than hers. Every dish I’ve cooked from your website so far has been outstanding. And healthy! I lived with my parents in Kifissia as a small child and it’s great to experience all the amazing food at home now in Hong Kong.
Thank you James!!
I order Gigantes from a company in California—Rancho Gordo. Always good dried beans.
Thanks for the tip Paula!