the taste space

Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on July 20, 2011

Toronto is having its first long heat wave of the summer. Tomorrow’s forecast is for a high of 38C and who knows what it will feel like with the humidity. It is a positive sauna outside and I don’t like it one bit! :(

Figures that all I want to make are baked beans. Turning on my oven when my house is already 28C inside. I must be nuts.

Nuts for beans, of course!

I am not bent on making your typical ooky sweet ketchup baked beans. I’ve already done the non-traditional, but uber delicious Mango BBQ Beans (not baked but the stovetop preparation makes this much more summer friendly!). I am talking around-the-world type of baked beans.

Because, every country has a different spin on the classic bean dish.

As Canadians, we add maple syrup.

Apparently vegan New Brunswick-style is to use blackstrap molasses and ginger for a zippy punch.

Or I could go more into southern soul cooking, using baked black eyed peas.

How about Mexican-style with Anasazi Beans Baked with Ancho Chile?

Then there’s Sephardic White Beans with Leeks.

Substitute the leeks with onions, add allspice, cinnamon and cloves, and you have Syrian baked beans.

Or, for a Tuscan influence, bake your white beans with sage and tomatoes. Or try it with rosemary and thyme, instead.

If you were Serbian, you’d bake your white tetovac beans with sweet paprika.

When in Nigeria, you might add curry powder, cumin, coriander, and peanut butter.

A quick glance onto my back porch, with its bountiful flat-leaf parsley, steered me into the direction of Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki), where giant lima beans are baked with a luscious tomato sauce spiced with smoked paprika, oregano, garlic, parsley and dill.  Already a creamy bean, the giant lima bean is brought to a silky high as it is baked in a delicious sauce. Baking confers even heat distribution and somehow allows the beans to continue to become creamy without losing its shape. Lima beans, if overcooked, can quickly disintegrate into mush if you don’t watch them carefully while they are cooking. Browning the beans during the last 15 minutes, allows a slightly crusty exterior to the top beans. The mixture of textures is wonderful.

Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature, with slices of bread, or just as is, which is my preference along with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

I fully intend to explore the world of baked beans, one country at a time.
Continuing after the heat wave has subsided, though. :)

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Susan, to E.A.T. World for Greece, to this month’s Simple and in Season and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.

Greek Baked Beans (Gigantes Plaki)
Adapted from Joanne at Eats Well With Others, who adapted it from Closet Cooking.

1/2 lb dried large lima beans (or regular lima beans or white beans in a pinch)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, to taste
14 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained (or 2-3 juicy tomatoes, diced)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup dill, chopped

1. Combine the drained beans and water to cover by 3 inches in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30-40 minutes, until tender.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. Heat olive oil in a medium size, ovenproof heavy skillet over medium heat, and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring often, until tender and lightly caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add in the undrained tomatoes, paprika, and oregano and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Scoop out lima beans (or drain, reserving some of their cooking liquid) with a slotted ladle, and add to tomato mixture. Add in 1/2 cup of the bean cooking liquid. Add in parsley and dill and mix well. Cover with aluminum foil (or lid) and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Stir if needed. Remove lid and cook an additional 15 minutes, until the beans are slightly brown. The beans should be meltingly tender.

5. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, with feta cheese, more herbs, overtop slices of bread. Or plain, relishing in its beautiful simplicity.

Serves 4.

18 Responses

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  1. Caitlin said, on July 20, 2011 at 11:25 AM come when i was in greece no one served this to me?! haha.

    seriously, though, there is something very alluring to me about giant beans tossed in a savory mix and baked to perfection.


  2. Jodi said, on July 20, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    One of my very favourite restaurant dishes *ever* is the giant lima beans at Mezes on the Danforth. They’re deeply flavoured, and oh, that sauce, so thick and luscious. These look lovely and very similar ~ looking forward to trying your recipe at home!

    • Saveur said, on July 20, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Oooh, thanks for the tip on where to find them locally! Which is really local for me since I could probably walk there in half an hour. :)

  3. Joanne said, on July 20, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Wow I never knew that so many countries had a baked beans recipe in their repertoire! Cool stuff. It would definitely be fun to cook your way through them.

    and you’ve made me totally miss this dish. So. Good.

  4. Priya Yallapantula said, on July 20, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Yum, that is a great recipe and beautiful pics.

  5. said, on July 21, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    I love the guys you choose to create/adapt for this food blog. If my cooking was exactly what I wanted it to be, it would be your cooking.

    Any mentorship would be appreciated!

  6. Susan said, on July 21, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    Love your goal of going around the globe baking beans. Greece is a great place to park your kitchen. You can spend a whole lifetime just exploring its cuisine.

    Thanks so much, Janet, for another fine contribution to MLLA. There really is something special about baking beans: all that golden crust, yet creamy inside.

  7. offset printing said, on July 21, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    I really admire your passion about beans, you seems to challenge yourself on how to make a good meals using beans as your main ingredient, but together with the other ingredients you used. This becomes your masterpiece. If only I was there, I would definitely request for this one.

  8. Ricki said, on July 21, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    Not what i’d expect when I read, “baked beans,” either, but what a great recipe! I’d never even think to bake Limas–and the smoked paprika would just make this dish. Even in 38C weather! ;) Thanks so much for submitting it to this week’s Wellness Weekend (and have a good one!). :)

  9. […] pardon my oven use during the heat wave. The Greek Baked Beans were worth it, though. Delicious lunch-friendly […]

  10. Julia said, on July 24, 2011 at 5:14 AM

    I love the list of baked beans from around the world! :)

  11. dulcie said, on July 27, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    This looks wonderful and seems like something my toddler might also like! Yum.

  12. Ashley said, on August 24, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    This is one of the dishes that I knew I had to try while in Greece and I really enjoyed it! I definitely must try recreating it at home. Yours looks amazing.

  13. […] what to plant, we found out cilantro tends to bolt in the summer. Ours bolted during the heat wave. But we had a back-up! Vietnamese coriander! It continues to give us nice leaves that taste similar […]

  14. […] I have baked beans in the middle of the summer, during the biggest heat wave of the summer, no less, I actually try not to use the oven in the summer.  The Mango BBQ Beans, which appeared a […]

  15. […] 3. Eats Well With Others: Another one of my favourite bloggers is Joanne. Her blog is fun to read AND eat from, wavering between decadent desserts and delicious vegetarian soups and salads. We share very similar tastes in the kitchen and I have been inspired by many of her recipes (likewise, she has also made a few of mine). I recommend her Creamy Lemon-Basil Whipped Avocado Sauce,  Lentil Mango Picadillo, Chickpeas Romesco, Brazilian Black Bean Soup, Spaghetti with Roasted Peach-Tomato Sauce, and Greek Baked Beans. […]

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