Comforting and buttery gigantes plaki, or Greek giant baked beans, with tomatoes and olive oil make a satisfying vegetarian dinner any night of the week. Or, you can serve them at room temperature over crusty bread as an appetizer!
Gigantes plaki is a classic Greek dish of tender baked beans, swimming in a chunky tomato sauce with lots of good extra virgin olive oil.
The term plaki, pronounced Plah-KEE, refers to a Greek cooking method where the food is baked or roasted with plenty of tomatoes, veggies, and extra virgin olive oil. (Remember this Greek baked fish with tomatoes and onions called psari plaki? Well, these Greek beans also belong to the plaki genre).
I'm grateful to Dorothy, a reader who e-mailed me about a baked bean casserole that her favorite Greek restaurant in Vancouver served. She turned me on to Gigantes plaki, or giant Greek baked beans, which is truly a textbook Mediterranean diet meal where a couple humble cans of beans are transformed into dinner that is satisfying and healthy.
You can never have enough bean recipes to save dinner! I loved it so much that I included the recipe in my cookbook.
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Ingredients to Make Gigantes Plaki
Gigantes plaki take just a handful of simple ingredients. There are three simple components to this recipe: the beans, the chunky tomato sauce, and the garnish or finishing touches. Here is what you need to make giant Greek beans:
Because traditional gigantes beans are not as easy to find, unless you have access to a Greek or Mediterranean grocery store near you, you can use large butter beans, lima beans, or the largest white beans you can find. And yes, canned beans are fine in this quick recipe.
You'll need some good extra virgin olive oil (like our peppery Early Harvest EVOO), a can of diced tomatoes, and chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, which make the tomato sauce hearty and delicious. To season the sauce, you'll need bay leaf, oregano, thyme, parsley, and a dash of cinnamon.
I like to finish this dish with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some crumbled creamy feta. Or, omit the feta if you want to keep it vegan.
How to Make this Recipe
- This simple baked beans recipe begins with the chunky tomato sauce in a big cast iron skillet or oven-safe pan. You'll toss the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until softened, then you'll add the diced tomatoes from a can (with their juices) and season.
- From there, just add the drained and well-rinsed can of beans (I used butter beans)to the sauce. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake at 350°F for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the beans are super tender.
- When the gigates are ready, top them with a good drizzle of olive oil and finish with some crumbled feta cheese.
Gigantes Plaki: Light Dinner or Snack
I'm a big fan of gigantes beans as a simple vegetarian dinner with nothing more than a side of crusty bread and maybe a big Greek salad. This white bean recipe also makes a great side next to other things like keftedes or baked chicken drumsticks.
But gigantes plaki are also often served as mezze or an appetizer at room temperature over some bread. Simple and delicious!
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Early Harvest- Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This high-quality cold extracted and unfiltered EVOO has a perfectly balanced complexity- rich green and fruity, with a peppery finish!
Gigantes Plaki (Greek-Style Baked Giant Beans)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 6 Tablespoons (3 fluid ounces) water
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
- ½ Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 (15-ounce) can butter beans, drained and rinsed (or the largest beans you can find)
- Creamy feta cheese, crumbled
- Rustic bread, for serving
- Preheat oven: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Saute the vegetables: In a large oven-safe skillet set over medium-high heat, add ⅛ cup olive oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt (about ¼ teaspoon). Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, 5-7 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and spices: Add the tomatoes with their juices and the water. Season with another pinch of salt (about ¼ teaspoon). Add the parsley, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, black pepper, cinnamon, and bay leaf.
- Add the beans: Stir in the beans and cook for 5 minutes over high heat. At this point, taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, then transfer the mixture to the oven and bake until thickened and the top layer turns a light golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Finish and serve: Remove and discard the bay leaf. Finish the dish with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of parsley, and a good sprinkle of feta. Serve with rustic bread.
- Leftovers & Storage: Gigantes plaki will keep well in the fridge for 4 days or so. You can serve leftovers at room temperature.
- Beans: The giant Greek beans traditionally used in this recipe can be difficult to comeby. Feel free to swap butter beans, cannellini beans, or even navy beans. Really any creamy, white bean will work.
- Visit our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils and spices. (I really like our Early Harvest Greek EVOO in this recipe).
Canned butter beans are NOT what Greeks use for this. Butter beans are NOT Gigantes beans. While convenient for the lazy canned butter beans are wrong.
Gigantes need to be cooked from dry beans - use something like the ones that can be bought through Amazon, big selection.
One thing taught by my parents - if you are gonna do something, do it right, or not at all!!!
Hi, Isaac. Suzy does mention in the article that she chose to use canned butter beans here, as traditional gigantes bean can be difficult to find and will take the recipe longer to prepare. The purpose of her website is to make the wonderful recipes and flavors of the Mediterranean as accessible as possible. She welcomes readers to tweak the recipes to suit their own tastes and the availability of ingredients in their area. You can absolutely use dried gigantes beans if that's what you prefer.
Hi I must make this soon! Could I use passata instead as I have a lot in the house. Thank you
Hi, Soraya. We've never tried this with passata, but I think it would be fine to use in a pinch.
I just made this for dinner and it is delicious. Thanks for a great recipe.