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Gigantes Plaki / Baked Giant Beans

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from the oven - gigantes plaki

from the oven – gigantes plaki

Gigantes plaki, or baked giant beans, are about as Greek and about as good as a dish can be.

There are countless variations of this classic dish and the recipe below is our family’s favorite. This recipe calls for parsley, celery, oregano and mint to flavor the delicate tomato sauce and beans. This combination is a bit lighter, brighter and slightly sweeter in taste than other versions with dill, carrot and/or cinnamon. Truth be told though, I don’t think I’ve ever met a plate of gigantes I didn’t like!

Busy schedule? No worries – gigantes plaki can easily be made in parts or stages, I do it all the time. Prep your gigantes (or large lima) beans up to 2 days ahead, make your sauce the day before and then assemble and bake when you’re ready to enjoy – its just that easy.

I often start soaking my beans in the morning and cook them later that same day – late afternoon or evening. Try to give your beans at least 8-10 hours of soaking time but you can go with as little as 6 or 7. I like to use Arosis brand gigantes but feel free to substitute any large or ford hook lima beans. Soaking your beans makes a big difference so don’t skip this step!  The beans are much less gassy and take much less time to cook.

Arosis giant beans - gigantes

Arosis giant beans – gigantes

You can set aside the cooked beans, covered in the refrigerator, for a few days until you’re ready to bake them. And the sauce takes really no time at all so I just make that right before adding to the pre-cooked beans and baking.

The bean baking time here is about 2 hours in a 350 degree oven.  I know many people who hike up the temp to 400 and cook for a hour and thats ok but to me, this is a slow cooking dish and the flavors will thank you for the extra time to come together.

Remember that gigantes (or large lima) beans foam up quite a bit when you cook them. Don’t freak out if its your first time and don’t go too far from the stove as you’ll need to skim off the foam every 10-15 minutes or so. Its a messy affair should it boil over onto your stovetop…..

skim foam off of boiling beans every 10-15 minutes

skim foam off of boiling beans every 10-15 minutes

To boil beans, cover with about 2-3 inches of water, do NOT add salt, and cook over medium-high heat for about 50 minutes from the time you put the pot on the heat. They should be done but not too done and will finish their cooking later in the oven.

MAKE SURE TO SAVE 2 cups of the cooking water before you drain the beans. You’ll need it later for the sauce. It adds some of the starch from the beans into the sauce and gives you a thicker/creamier sauce.

reserve two cups of cooking liquid before draining to use in sauce

reserve two cups of cooking liquid before draining to use in sauce

When ready to bake your gigantes, gently spread the boiled beans in an even layer in your pan.  I find a 9x13x2 inch baking pan is perfect for 1 pound of beans (dried). For doubling or tripling the recipe, I use a large, deep ceramic casserole dish. The sides are about 4 inches high to accommodate the additional sauce.

a 9x13 baking pan accommodates 1 pound of dried beans perfectly

a 9×13 baking pan accommodates 1 pound of dried beans (cooked here) perfectly

When making the sauce, a cup of olive oil may seem overly generous but you want your finished baked beans to be creamy good and this is the only fat in this dish so pour on!

Sauté the chopped onions and celery, until they’re soft, add the garlic for a minute or two until tender and then add herbs and spices.  Give the pan a good stir to mix everything together evenly. Then cook for only another minute just to release the flavors oils and add the crushed tomato. Cook for 5 minutes to bring the sauce together and then add your reserved cooking water. Bring sauce up to a boil and set aside until ready to bake your beans.

When ready to bake, pour sauce over beans layered in pan and carefully stir to incorporate everything. Add 1 cup of water (room temp) to the pan and cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours.

pour sauce and additional cup of water over cooked beans and bake for 2 hours

pour sauce and additional cup of water over cooked beans and bake for 2 hours

I give the pan a gentle stir every half hour or so but it isn’t absolutely necessary if you have to leave it on its own. Most of the water will have been absorbed and its a good idea to stir once and then allow the beans to stand undisturbed for about 15- 30 minutes before serving.

done and delicious! gigantes just out of the oven

done and delicious! gigantes just out of the oven

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried beans (gigantes or large lima beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (approx 2 medium onions)
  • 1/3 cup chopped garlic
  • 1 cup chopped celery (approx 2-3 stalks)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp crushed, dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Greek olive oil
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups reserved cooking water from beans
  • 1 cup water, room temperature

Soak dried beans overnight or at least 7 hours. Boil for 50 minutes and RESERVE 2 cups of cooking liquid before draining beans.

Saute chopped onions and celery in olive oil over medium low heat until tender. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add herbs and spices, mix to combine completely and cook for just a minute to combine flavor oils.

Add chopped tomatoes, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved bean cooking liquid and bring sauce up to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside until ready to bake the beans.

Layer cooked gigantes beans evenly in 9×13 baking pan and pour sauce over top. Add 1 cup room temperature water and bake, uncovered, for 2 hours in 350 degree oven. Stir approximately every half hour or so.

Allow baked beans to rest for about 15-30 minutes before serving. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of buttery white wine for a most wonderful, traditional meal.

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56 Responses to Gigantes Plaki / Baked Giant Beans

  1. John Beck January 22, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

    Can I microwave this?

    • Kiki January 22, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

      Do you mean to microwave to reheat then? If yes, then no 🙂
      I’d put them in a pot with a tbsp or 2 of water and reheat on low, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Much better results than reheating in the microwave! There’s pretty tasty at room temperature too if you’re taking them for lunch. Hope I’ve answered you question, Kiki 🙂

  2. john February 10, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    ROOM TEMP works well. Thanks KIKI.

  3. Thomas February 15, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Hello Kiki, this is a fantastic recipe and I thank you for it!

    I do wonder one thing. There’s only one food that I miss all this time and that is feta. I tried out marinating tofu in olive oil and herbs, because people said it’s tasty. I don’t think so at all. So the next time I tried it, I bought what other vegans told me was the tastiest tofu and put it in a salty brine, I thought it was clever! But again, it just tasted like tofu. I tried various store bought cheese alternatives and seasoned them, all to no abail. I’ve tasted some really good mozzarella and parmesan alternatives, but nothing reminiscent of feta so far… Do you have an idea?

    • Kiki February 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Thomas, so glad you like it – one of our favorites too!

      So for non-dairy feta – I have been told that I believe Vegcusine makes a soy feta. I’ve not tasted it but do know that some say its quite tasty. Personally I try not to look for substitutes for dairy or meat products because inevitably even the best substitutes are disappointing. For me, I stick to foods that are traditionally meat/dairy free so you’ll notice that there is no soy anywhere on The Greek Vegan! If you find it, let me know what you think? Kiki 🙂

    • Natalie June 20, 2016 at 12:18 am #

      I always use the vegetarian times almond feta recipe and it never fails. People rave about it!

  4. Claire March 3, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    Kiki,

    Can I use canned butter beans as a substitute for the gigantes? Someone suggested this as a shortcut.

    Thanks

    • Kiki March 3, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

      I’ve not tried them myself but have been told that they work fine. Really, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t work. I’d just be sure to rinse them before covering with sauce and baking. Butter beans are a good substitute for gigantes. Personally, I think they’re a little less creamy but delicious nonetheless. Long answer to a short question! Let me know if you try it how they work? Kiki 🙂

  5. Helen Lucas March 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    This recipe looks amazing. It seems like a lot of olive oil for the amount of beans.
    Can it be cut down or is it necessary for the taste and outcome of the recipe?

    • Kiki March 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      Hi Helen! I know i may seem a bit much at fist glance but you will end up with the most buttery, creamy beans you could ever imagine! This dish is so wonderful, you will absolutely not be disappointed. Thanks for asking before deciding to cut down the amount – I really do recommend you go with the full 1 cup! Enjoy, Kiki 🙂

  6. Nick March 29, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    This will be cooked this Easter! Amazing! Do you have any other ideas what to serve for Easter meals? Tsoureki? Bobota?

  7. Kat June 5, 2015 at 5:39 am #

    Hi Kiki,

    By crushed tomatoes, do you mean chopped fresh ones or canned?

    • Kiki June 5, 2015 at 11:50 am #

      Hi Kat! You can do either – I like fresh chopped myself but in a pinch, canned will do. One suggestion for canned – get the whole, peeled tomatoes, drain off the liquid around them and chop. I would not use something like canned tomato sauce as that might well produce overwhelmingly tomatoey dish. That being said, this is a pretty forgiving recipe in terms of substitutions as everything cooks down into just a beautiful combination of flavors 🙂

  8. Brenda July 9, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

    Do you peel your fresh tomatoes before you crush them, or do you use skin and all?

    • Kiki July 9, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

      I usually peel them but have, when in a rush, added them skins and all with fine results. The dish cooks long enough that the skins actually almost melt into the sauce! I’ve also used canned crushed tomatoes and drained any canning liquid before using.I didn’t like this as much as fresh but it certainly wasn’t bad, just a more muted tomato flavor to me. A long answer to a short question 🙂

  9. Evelyn July 24, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    Absolutely one of my favorite meatless meals. So delicious. I am always amazed how similar Greek and Neapolitan cooking are.

  10. Joyce July 24, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

    Can you make this in a crockpot? Thank you!

    • Kiki July 24, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

      Joyce, I wouldn’t. Part of what makes this gigantes plaki so delectable is the way the flavors are BAKED into each creamy bean. A crockpot just wouldn’t be able to duplicate this process and you’d end up with more of a soup kind of thing as opposed to the magnificent meal these are supposed to be. Thanks for asking though as I’m sure other readers have wondered about crockpot-ing this recipe too! Kiki xx

  11. Lisa July 28, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    This is a very tasty recipe. I am now in love with this dish. Have made it several times and I have at least 6 bags of beans in my pantry. This dish is very simple to make. The only change I made was that I omitted the mint. I have never been a fan of mint and I NEVER use it. This dish is perfect without it.

  12. LM October 2, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    I discovered your blog right before we took a trip to Greece. I was doing some research about what kinds of vegan foods would be available and stumbled across this site. I’m so thankful!

    We were able to find and eat most of these dishes in Greece and had the absolute best time.

    Now that we’ve been back for a while, I’ve been making my way through some of your recipes and they’re just like I remember, and in the case of these Gigantes Plaki, WAY BETTER than even those most amazing beans that I had in Greece. Your family recipe is amazing!

    Thanks so much for doing what you do!
    I’m completely full on fava, gigantes and melitzanosalata RIGHT NOW because of the Greek Vegan.

    Thank You!!

  13. Karen October 4, 2015 at 7:32 am #

    Can I freeze this, I have cooked far too much. It’s delicious!

    • Kiki October 4, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

      So glad you liked it! I don’t think freezing is the best idea for leftovers though. Gigantes do last, covered in the fridge, for up to 5 days if that helps! Kiki 🙂

  14. yves October 6, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    This looks scrumptious. Will try it. But bit of a shame that the Arosis legumes are nowhere to be found in Manhattan. ONly Titan Foods Astoria

  15. Nikki October 9, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    Wow, I saw this recipe on the Instant Pot FB page, which led me here. I’ve never been to this site before, but based on everyone’s comments, I made these beans last night. I didn’t have limas, but I used Rancho Gordo giant corona beans. Otherwise I followed the instructions exactly, and this is the BEST POT OF BEANS I’ve had in a long time. I make a lot of beans and am pretty picky about recipes, and I was intrigued by this one.

    I know that 1/3 c. chopped garlic and 3/4 c.chopped parsley may sound like a lot, but do not be tempted to cut back on any of the ingredients. I think it works incredibly well here, just delicious!

  16. Joslin October 28, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    This is absolutely delicious! Imported giant beans from

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000LRH6J0?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00

    Finished recipe last night – oh my. Words fail me. Sauce is light, fresh, beans were soft with just a light crisp on the skins of the ones on top, just wonderful. Thank you!

  17. Kristen Magnuson December 23, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    I just made this. Unfortunately, when I cooked the beans (lima beans) they turned to mush. Perhaps they were old? I did take off the skin after soaking. Am I not to do that? Thanks!

    • Kiki December 27, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

      Oh Kristen,the skins keep the beans intact so without them, the poor little limas had no support and just fell apart! the only time I recommend taking the skins off is when you’re making humus or stragalia (toasted chickpeas) – other than that, let’s keep it skins-on 🙂 Have to ask, was it still tasty even if mushy? I’m thinking yes 😉 Kiki

  18. Kristin L January 19, 2016 at 6:20 am #

    Wow. Honestly the best thing I’ve cooked in awhile. A new staple in our house. Thanks so much!

  19. lysanderslair January 22, 2016 at 2:25 am #

    This was delicious thanks.

  20. Matt January 23, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    I enjoyed eating gigantes plakis when I traveled to Kefalonia last September. I ate them and sardines every opportunity I had. I recently bought some Royal Corona beans from Rancho Gordo, and I intend to make giant beans in the oven with them. Your recipe will be a handy resource.

  21. deedeebee March 26, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    To make the recipe easier and quicker, I used canned cannellini beans, and I did not add the last cup of water before baking because I thought canned beans would not need the additional liquid. Holy cow, these were the most delicious baked beans I have ever tasted. My taste buds thank you for this website!

  22. Anna April 5, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    How many people does this recipe serve?

    • Kiki April 5, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

      I’d say 8 generous servings – remember, it’s very filling 🙂

  23. tooposhtowash May 30, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    just made this – delicious! it didn’t have quite as much sauce left after baking i thought so next time ill add more oil/bean water/tomatoes i think!

  24. Margaux June 2, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    These are AWESOME! I used Cannellini beans (Eden brand) since that’s what I had on hand, plus dried mint and dried Greek seasoning because I didn’t have fresh mint or dried oregano. It’s super creamy and flavorful and totally takes me back to Naxos where I first had a dish like this!

  25. Vaidehi June 15, 2016 at 11:48 pm #

    Hi Kiki, we have just returned from a fabulous vacation to Greece. We loved the Greek vegetarian options. Bought a lot of ingredients from the local market to try out some Greek recipes. I bought the giant beans as well and tried out your recipe. Turned out yum! Next on my menu are the stuffed bell peppers and tomatoes:-))
    Thank you for the simple and yummy recipes.

  26. Vaidehi June 16, 2016 at 12:04 am #

    Hi Kiki, we just returned from a fabulous vacation to Greece. Loved the Greek vegetarian food…infact we bought a lot of ingredients from the local markets . I bought the giant beans too. Tried out your recipe….turned out yum! Took me back to Greece:-))
    Waiting to try out the stuffed peppers and tomatoes next!
    Thank you for the simple and delicious recipes.

  27. John August 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    I’ve made this before and it’s awesome. I’m not a vegetarian but this is the type fish that could win me over. I’m making it very soon Shan, I lost the recipe I’m so glad I found it again. Thank you.

  28. Sue October 16, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    Just checking – do I cover the beans when baking or no? I assume no… But I think I should somehow?

    • Kiki October 16, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      uncovered 🙂

  29. Semele October 26, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    This looks fantastic! I’m going to try this weekend. Do you ever do part of it in advance? I was goong to soak and boil the beans, and then not bake them until several hours later. Does that sound like it will work, or do the beans need to be piping hot from the boiling before you bake them?

    • Kiki October 31, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

      absolutely! I almost always boil my beans ahead of time – sometimes days ahead 🙂

  30. Judy December 26, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

    This is a fabulous recipe. I see lots of comments about wanting to cut down on the olive oil (and in fact, I do). However, the most delicious Greek cooking I have enjoyed has always involved tomatoes sauce and lots of good quality olive oil. Thanks for this! A definite keeper!

  31. Sam December 31, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    Just tried this yesterday, but left out the mint. It’s excellent! However, I think it’s best to add the parsley toward the very end of baking, or just before serving. The parsley basically disappeared in the beans, without leaving any noticeable taste. I think I may add some chopped carrots next time as well.

  32. Terri January 7, 2017 at 1:17 am #

    This is THE BEST!!!! i made half the recipe just to be sure i liked it and i wish i had made 2x.

  33. Terri January 7, 2017 at 2:04 am #

    I wouldn’t dream of cutting down the olive oil.

  34. Irene January 14, 2017 at 12:39 am #

    I discovered canned “butter beans” at the grocery store. If someone doesn’t have the time to boil beans, these, drained and rinsed work just as well for me. Instead of using the bean liquid, as in your recipe, I would add water. Seriously, they are a real time saver, and might make the difference for someone who would love to try your recipe, but who doesn’t have the time. I don’t need to add as much salt when using canned butter beans, but that’s a matter of personal taste. Your recipe is fabulous.

    • Kiki January 14, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

      Presvytera, thanks so much for that recommendation! I’ve never tried them myself, but will keep an eye out for them on my next trip to the grocery store. I’m sure fellow readers will appreciate it as well 🙂

  35. Tina January 14, 2017 at 10:32 am #

    My moms recipe calls for sliced carrots, which I love. Have you ever added them to your recipe? I’d love to try your version, but add in the carrots.

    • Kiki January 14, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

      Tina, I actually do add carrots when I have them around! they are wonderful in this recipe and blend beautifully into the sauce. thanks for mentioning carrots – I highly recommend readers try adding them in 🙂

  36. Jen February 28, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    I absolutely loved this. The long slow bake and herb and spice combination made it so delicious. Due to some health problems I am on a special diet and didn’t use any oil, just a tablespoon of almond butter but it still tasted wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  37. AV March 7, 2017 at 6:43 am #

    This was really tasty. Here are my pictures of it: https://tmifood.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/gigantes-plaki/

  38. Eva March 23, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    Would you happen to know how big a serving size is and the nutritional value? I would really appreciate this information if possible

    • Kiki March 23, 2017 at 10:56 am #

      Eva, not being a nutritionist or RD, I wouldn’t know! that said, these beans are AMAZING!! Kiki 🙂

  39. Nikki March 25, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

    This brought me back to the little mountain town I was snowed in at while visiting Greece in the early spring. There was only one guest house and one tiny taverna down stairs. When we tried to translate “vegetarian” to the chain-smoking cook he laughed at us. To our amazement, he made the best bean dish I have ever tasted. This recipe speaks to that same home cooked goodness. The only changes I made were using Red Scarlett beans (because that’s what I had) and (for my father’s dietary restrictions) 1/3 of the olive oil.
    Everyone had seconds, then thirds. Thank you! This was SO DELICIOUS.

    P.S. Don’t be scared by the mint in this. It’s absolutely wonderful in this dish.

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