If I had to make a list of the top-10 dishes that you have to try when you come to Greece, then baked giant beans would certainly be one of them!
It’s an honest food that has served a lot of generations and continues to play an instrumental role to our daily diet.
Giant beans are called “gigantes” in Greek. This name describes the size of the beans, which is considerably larger than this of the usual white beans.
Giant beans (or “runner beans”, in English) grow under protective law in northern Greece and are widely used in the local cuisine.
Most of the time, gigantes beans are served as a starter or meze and seldom as an actual main course.
Different parts of Greece serve different variations of the baked beans recipe.
The vegetarian version is the most well-known, as it consists of gigantes beans, tomatoes, onions, sweet red peppers and dill.
These ingredients are mixed with olive oil and are baked in the oven.
The result is so delicious, that I sometimes can’t stop eating them, even if I’m completely full (yes, giant beans are that tasty!).
A variation of the classic Greek gigantes bean recipe that will win over any meat lover is to add slices of good village sausage.
The combination of meat and beans is a very common practice in the local cuisine.
Since it’s a period of lent, and only one of us fasts, we decided to make half the dish with sausages.
I have an argument with Vassilis, as I find the vegetarian version a bit more satisfying to my taste buds.
Greek giant beans can really keep you going for hours, as they are loaded with proteins, fiber and complex carbohydrates.
You might be wondering where to buy them…
Well, it might be a bit trickier to find gigantes beans, depending on where you live, but any respectable delicatessen with Greek products should have some of them.
Instead, you can always order them online.
We got ours from our trip to Lake Doxa about two months ago.
Lake Doxa is approximately 2 ½ hours away from Athens.
The whole region is well-known for its excellent beans and lentils.
Thinking about that trip, I realize once again that Greece is not only a destination famous for its islands, crystal clear waters or endless summer.
Greece has amazing mountains, forests and lakes ready to be explored!
- 500gr. Greek giant white beans (gigantes)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cube bio chicken or vegetable stock (optional)
- 2 really good pork sausages (approximately 500gr.), cut in medium slices
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 medium sweet red peppers, cut in medium slices
- 1 handful of dill, finely chopped (approximately 15gr.)
- 250gr. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2tbsp. tomato paste
- 300ml. broth
- 120ml. extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of sugar
Put the beans into a deep bowl and cover with cold water from the previous night.
Cover with cling film and keep them in the fridge.
When it’s time for cooking, get a big pot.
Add the beans and the water into the pot.
Add the bay leaves and the chicken/vegetable stock.
Cover with a lid and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 45-55 minutes, until beans are tender, but not very soft! (You will need only 30 minutes, should you cook the beans in a pressure cooker).
Sprinkle with salt and leave the beans to cool in their broth, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius/fan mode.
Strain the beans and reserve 300ml. of their broth.
Transfer them into the ovenproof dish.
Add the sausages, onions, red peppers, dill, garlic, cherry tomatoes and olive oil.
Dissolve the tomato paste into the 300ml. of broth and pour it into the dish.
Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
Bake for approximately 45-55 minutes, until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened.
Do not cover the ovenproof dish and do not stir the beans every now and then!
Taste and season according to your preference.
Allow food to cool into the dish.
Drizzle with some olive oil and serve along with traditional feta cheese.