Gigantes! Baked beans à la grecque

gigantes beans

It’s a big day! This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts featuring foodie friends who are passionate about healthy eating. My dear friend Maria, who has also been a privileged food tester for most of the dishes you see on this blog, is the brave pioneer. Thank you M! 

It is a traditional recipe from Greece, the kind that goes from mother to daughter. A typical Mediterranean dish, it is very popular in every corner of the country, from the mountains to the plains to the islands.

Maria made this dish for me and I immediately loved it because it is hearty and warming, but also because it reminds me very much of a baked beans dish I practically grew up on in Macedonia (as it was almost the only thing my mom would succeed in making me eat when I was little ). So you see, we our beans in the Balkans.

For 2 full plates, you will need:

  • 2 cups big white beans (they are called gigantes in Greece and can be found in any Greek delicatessen)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 branch celery (and/or some persil)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup tomato passata
  • 2,5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • pinch muscat powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Before starting, soak the beans overnight (for about 10-12 hours).

Start by cooking them in a good amount of water (at least 6 cups) on medium heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 180°C. In parallel, chop the veggies in small pieces and mince the garlic.

In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat, and add to cook the onion and the garlic. When they become tender, add the tomatoes and the carrots, and then the tomato passata, oregano, muscat, salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup water (enough to make the passata slightly more liquid, so that it does not dry up too quickly) and let it all cook over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes.

When the beans are ready (they should be soft on the inside), pour them in a deep baking pan. Then add over them the sauce, 1,5 tablespoons olive oil, the chopped celery, and 1/2 to 1 cup water (to make sure that the beans are just about covered by the liquid). Cook in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes.

Et voilà! This tastes very very good with some feta cheese (for the non-vegans) or with a spinach salad (for the vegans).

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