The first time I saw these gigantic beans was visiting my mother’s village Myrtia, Greece. Myrtia is perched atop a small mountain in a seaside village on the southern Peloponnese coast. The view from the village is absolutely breathless… see for yourself.
My mother’s sister, Thea Kannellio operates the only restaurant in the center of town, known as the “kentro”. Every evening the most incredible aromas of Greek rustic dinners would emerge from her kitchen, drawing in the village folks. Here I had my first tasty morsel of this humongous bean… I instantly fell in love with its earthy flavor and refreshing taste. I insisted my Thea Kannellio make these every week during my stay, though she preferred me to taste other culinary dishes her country had to offer.
When I returned to the states, I searched every specialty store to find these lovely beans. This was not an easy feat, but I prevailed!
Now I could satisfy my yearning for these giant little beans. First in line… a cooking lesson from my mother and the sharing of this traditional recipe the way her mother prepared gigantes. The recipe was now being passed onto me.
Much to my liking they emerged from the oven perfectly and exactly as I remembered them – thick, juicy, earthy, flavorful and satisfying!
Here’s what you need… dutch oven, sauté pan, prep time 1 1/2 hours, cook time 1 hour, Serves 12
1 pound dried gigantes beans (about 2 ¾ to 3 cups)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 can crushed tomatoes, undrained (28-ounce)
1/4 cup fresh leaf parsley chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Sort and wash beans, place 3 cups of the washed gigantes beans in a large bowl and cover with water, allowing beans to soak overnight for about 12 hours. After soaking, remove all floating beans and discard. Drain and rinse well, place in a large pot cover with water, about 2 inches above beans, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until beans are tender. Drain beans.
Preheat oven to 325°. While beans cook on the stove top, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in oregano and tomatoes, simmer 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper. Combine the cooked beans and tomato mixture in a 3-quart casserole and bake at 325° for 1 hour.
These are nutritious and super good for you. Serve them as a main dish with bread, as a “meze” or side dish with roasted lamb. Whichever way you decide to serve these gigantes up, be sure to make plenty – it’s easy to get carried away eating straight from the pan until every “little – big” morsels has disappeared.
And remember… beans, beans they’re good for you heart!