A very traditional Greek dish called “Gigandes Plaki”, based on an old family recipe. Hearty, wholesome, wonderful hot or cold and utterly healthful. I use only a couple of sprays of olive oil, as opposed to a whole cup added by most Greeks! This large amount of oil is never healthy and honestly, not at all necessary for flavour or texture, as you will see, if you follow my recipe. Another subtle but substantial difference, is the use of fresh tomatoes, which, I think, are always a far superior choice.
Oven Baked Giant Beans
500g giant white beans, soaked over night
2 lt of water (1 cup reserved after cooking)
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp vegetable stock powder
100 ml dry white wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 large tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (2tbsp reserved for serving)
1 tsp dried spearmint
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup
3 tbsp bread crumbs (I used panko)
A few sprays of olive oil
🍅 First prepare the beans. Place them in 2 litres of fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Do not add salt, as anything else. The beans will produce foam as they boil. With a ladle, skim the foam and discard. Cook the beans for 50 minutes to an hour, until they are soft, but not falling apart. Drain, reserving one cup of the cooking water, and set aside.
🍅 Preheat the oven at 200c.
🍅 In a deep pan, add the onion and the celery, the garlic, the veggie stock powder and about 1/2 a cup of water. Sauté over low medium heat until softened. Pour in the wine and cook until slightly reduced. Add the tomato paste, the chopped tomatoes, the parsley, the spearmint, the cinnamon and the maple syrup. Continue to cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have broken down and the juices have evaporated. Pour in the reserved cooking water from the beans, stir and bring to a boil. Check the seasoning and set aside.
🍅 In an oven proof dish of your preference, lay the cooked beans in one even layer. Pour the sauce over the beans and, with a large metal spoon, stir everything gently. Sprinkle the bead crumbs all over, spray the surface with a little olive oil and grind some fresh black pepper and a little salt. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes, stirring the beans halfway through.
🍅 Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the rest of the fresh parsley and serve.