Greek has to be my favourite cuisine. It’s heavy on lemon, favours olive oil, and has that wonderful combination of brininess and creaminess. In addition to the abundance of fresh herbs used, it also features a great array of pulse and legume-based dishes like this one!
Here is my version of gigantes plaki – Greek giant baked beans. Giant dried lima beans baked in a tomato sugo that is heavily spiked with garlic, thyme and my ever faithful dill. What isn’t improved by dill? (Rhetorical!… But really!) So, lots of dill, a generous amount of olive oil, and you have a delicious and rich dish that is at home on any grazing table/mezze/pot luck/barbecue… And I’m gonna say thanksgiving too, as its coming up, and why wouldn’t it be right at home? Unorthodox… Moi? Really, these beans could be served in front of your tellie, they’re just a so versitile.
This dish is traditionally made with a cup of olive oil. Yes, a whole cup! I agree, a little overkill and not entirely necessary in my opinion (my great yiayia would shocked at my renegade recipe alterations). I’ve scaled it back accordingly, but I do believe pulses and legumes need a good amount of fat to balance out their starchiness (and make them taste less flat/bland), and olive oil is my favourite way to achvieve this. Greek cuisine uses olive oil as a flavour note, which you need in these sorts of pulse dishes, but I believe that the generous helping of garlic and herbs makes this flavoursome enough with a only third of the oil.
Serve these gigantes topped with lots of fresh dill, olive oil, and maybe some almond feta. This recipe by Dearna of To Her Core is a great way to use up excess nut milk pulp and would work a treat on top of these giants. Nut cheese is a revelation to those avoiding dairy. That said, these beans are delicious without any cheese at all, the dill and olive oil are flavoursome enough on their own if you prefer to serve them that way.
These beans remind me of the many wonderful Greek meals I’ve eaten over the years, and I don’t think many cuisines compare to Greek in their simple yet winning flavour combinations. Make these beans, eat them, and let me know if you agree xx
Gigantes: Baked Lima Beans with Dill
This recipe is made using dried beans, not fresh. If cooking from scratch, soak 350g of large dried lima/butter/Greek gigantes beans in water overnight, drain, and then cook in a large pot of boiling for 30-50mins (till cooked through but not mushy). Alternatively, you can use three 400g cans of cooked lima/butter beans, drained and rinsed.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Gigantes: Baked Lima Beans with Dill
80g | 1 small onion, finely chopped
80ml | 1/3 cup olive oil (+ more to serve)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt (+ more to taste)
2 x 400g tinned diced tomatoes
760g | 4.5 cups cooked lima / butter / gigantes beans. *See note
30g | a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped (+ more to serve)
Preheat oven to 180C.
In a dutch oven or saucepan over high heat, cook the onion in the olive oil for 2 min till softening before adding the garlic, thyme and salt and cooking for another 1-2 minutes till fragrant and starting to colour. Add the tinned tomatoes and beans, bring to boil. If your pot is not oven proof, transfer the beans to an oven proof dish. Bake uncovered for 50min, till sauce has reduced a little and beans are soft.
Season to taste and serve with extra dill, drizzled with olive oil and maybe even some almond feta. Serve alongside your favourite salad, bread to mop up the sauce or with roasted potatoes. Is great as part of a mezze spread, barbecue or pot luck. Will keep refrigerated for up to five days, freezes well.