Greek Gigantes Plaki

Large white beans in tomato sauce

Gigantes plaki are commonly found as part of a meal in Greek tavernas. They will be one of the little dishes served in the metze – which is the traditional Greek start to a meal, made up of a selection of tasty appetizers.

Butter beans will probably be the closest you will get to these big white beans.

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Serves 6 or more:

  • 500g (1 lb) dried butter beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 kg (2 lb) ripe tomatoes
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a small bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped or a tablespoon of dried
  • a small bunch of parsley

Cover the beans in water and soak for about 4 hours. The skins will split but don’t worry.

When the beans have soaked, cover the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or two, which will make it easy to remove the skins. Then chop the flesh.

Fry the onion in the oil until golden. Add the garlic and when it begins to color, add the tomatoes, beans, a little thyme or oregano and the bay leaves.

Barely cover with water and simmer gently until the beans begin to soften. Then add salt and pepper to taste, sugar, lemon juice and mint. Cook until the beans are very tender but not overcooked (or they fall apart). This could take up to an hour or even more, depending on the quality of the beans.

Add the parsley and serve at room temperature. This recipe for gigantes plaki keeps well for several days.

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