Greek baked beans, aka. Gigantes Plaki
It’s easy to fall in love with Greek baked beans (Gigantes Plaki). A spicy, creamy tomato sauce surrounds beans all safely tucked in a casserole dish in the comfort of your oven. Spice it up with chili flakes and oregano and top it with fresh parsley and dill. Warning – you may experience severe hunger pangs when the aroma starts filling the house.
What is aquafaba?
Aquafaba is a fancy term for the cooking liquid from beans. Usually, it’s the liquid that goes down the drain when we open a can of beans, drain and rinse them. Turns out, aquafaba has multiple uses. It can be used as an egg replacement as well as a thickener for sauces. It’s that second use that will give our Greek baked beans a creamy, thick sauce.
The first layer of this recipe is a mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery. What the heck is mirepoix, you ask? It’s a flavor base in which onions, carrots and celery are cooked over very low heat with a minimum of browning. This takes a bit more time than sautéing. The trade off is that you don’t need to constantly move the vegetables. Just set it and move off to work on the other elements of the recipe.
Making the spicy tomato sauce
Once we have our mirepoix conquered, we’ll keep layering by adding the garlic and chili flakes. Layer three is the tomato paste, tomatoes, oregano, paprika and bay leaves. Our final sauce destination will be adding the fresh dill and parsley. Because we’re aiming for a creamy sauce, be sure to puree your canned tomatoes first.
Go dry if you dare
If you happen to find dried Gigantes beans this is the perfect recipe to try them out. Use 1 lb. (454 gm.) dried. Be sure to soak them in three times the amount of water overnight or for at least 12 hours. Drain and rinse your beans, cover them with water and cook them for an hour until they are tender. Be sure not to discard the cooking water – it’s now officially aquafaba and we’re going to use it.
A traditional dish with variations
There are a lot of versions of this traditional Greek dish — some recipes do not add carrots, while some recipes call for adding a bit of cinnamon. This is a great recipe to get creative and experiment with different amounts or types of spices, flavorings or mirepoix. If you worry about ruining the whole dish, opt for adding a new spice by adding it to a bit of the finished dish. Give it a taste and if you like it, make a note and use it next time. And there WILL be a next time.
My introduction to Greek baked beans occurred appropriately in Athens. I think we had it 4 out of the 5 days we were there. I toned my own recipe by making it oil free as that’s my plant-based way. As is my experience with so many dishes, we never missed the oil. Once you make a change, like abandoning added oil, you forget about it. You learn different ways to prepare foods or make dressing and sauces. Different becomes the norm. Peace.Print
Fall in love with Greek baked beans (Gigantes Plaki) – butter beans, onions, celery, carrots, garlic and spices baked in spicy, creamy tomato sauce.
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 carrots, diced small
- 2 large celery ribs, diced small
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. chili flakes (less if you don’t want the heat)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1– 15 oz. (400 gm.) can diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups whole peeled tomatoes, pureed, with juice
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 3 – 15 oz. (400 gm.) cans butter beans or other large white beans. Drain the beans and reserve the liquid.
- 2–3 cups of liquid reserved from the beans.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Let the mirepoix cook for 10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent (a bit of color is ok). If the veggies start to stick, add water a tablespoon at a time.
- Add the garlic and 1 tsp. chili flakes and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, cooking for about a minute before adding the can of tomatoes, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. paprika and 3 bay leaves.
- Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes or so, or until the sauce starts to thicken.
- While the sauce cooks, drain the beans and reserve the liquid.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Once the sauce is ready, add 1/3 cup fresh parsley and 2 Tbsp. dill and taste for seasoning.
- Add the beans to an ovenproof casserole or baking dish. Cover the beans with the sauce and mix well.
- Add 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid — enough to just cover the beans. Keep any reserved liquid handy.
- Bake for the beans for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check the beans occasionally, adding more liquid more liquid if the mixture seems too dry. Once done, the liquid should be mostly evaporated and the beans should be tender, but not too dry.
- At the end, if desired, the oven temperature can be turned up to 400°F (200°C) for the last 10 minutes or so. This will allow any excess sauce to reduce and it will also crisp up the top nicely.
- Note: When done, if the mixture seems a too dry, you can always add a bit more of the cooking liquid. It’s also a good idea to save any remaining cooking liquid because it is very flavorful and can be used to reheat any leftover beans and/or for making other dishes.
- Garnish the final dish with finely chopped parsley if desired.
For dried beans
- Soak 1 lb. (454 gm.) dried Gigantes beans (or large butter or lima beans) overnight or for at least 12 hours. Once the beans are fully rehydrated, drain and rinse them.
- Place the beans in a large pot and cover the with water. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat and let the beans simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender, but not mushy.
- Once done, drain the beans and reserve 2-3 cups of the liquid.
- Traditionally Gigantes Plaki is served only slightly warm or at room temperature, so be sure to let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- After you make the sauce, you can put all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Put it on low and cook it all day if you like. Just be sure to check if you need to add more liquid.
- In the end, the final consistency comes down to personal preference. Once you have a made this dish a few times, you can decide how saucy you like it.
- Greek baked beans are wonderful their own or serve with pita bread and hummus and a big salad, or as part of a multi-dish Greek feast.
- Category: Main Courses
- Method: Stove top/bake
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: Greek baked beans