Meatless Monday: Gigantes Plaki (Greek Baked Bean Casserole)

March 21, 2011 · 18 comments

in beans and legumes,dairy-free,greek,healthy,vegetarian

I’m not really sure that “baked bean casserole” is the best translation of this dish, but it’s the best I could come up with!  Gigantes (pronounced yee-gahn-dess) are a staple in Greek households, especially during lent. They are giant beans (no…really) baked in a tomato sauce until they soak up most of the sauce and then form a nice crispy top. Like nearly all Greek food, the dish is very comforting and homey. It’s  nothing show-stopping or fancy, but it’s a simple, delicious dish. Unless you have a Greek grocery nearby, chances are you won’t actually find gigantes, which look like this. (See?  Giant!)

However, large butter beans or lima beans are a good fit with this dish.

Like all dried bean dishes, this does take a bit of time to cook.  But, the active prep time is minimal, so it’s certainly nothing labor-intensive.  You just need to plan out when you’re going to make it since it will take about 3 hours to make that day, and you also need to soak the beans overnight beforehand.

I’m sure you’re SHOCKED to see that I made these in a cast iron skillet, right? :) It’s really a great vessel because I used it to make the tomato sauce, which meant I could just add the beans right in and not worry about moving everything to a separate baking dish. You can certainly use fresh tomatoes in this, but it’s not quite tomato season yet so I opted not to. Of course, I still threw some on the Greek salad on the side.  Oh tomatoes, I wish I could quit you (in the winter).  I happened to have half a leftover bell pepper so I threw that in here as well.  I liked the addition but it’s certainly not a requirement or a traditional ingredient.  Feel free to adapt this to your tastes!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

janet March 21, 2011 at 4:46 am

I am always on the search for more bean recipes and bonus if it includes new beans! I have seen recipes like this and must try it out soon. :) Thanks for sharing!

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Joanne March 21, 2011 at 5:30 am

So funniest coincidence EVER but I made these this weekend as well! And am posting them today! Great minds think alike chica! I loved them, but since mine are likely nowhere near as authentic as yours I’d LOVE to give yours a try!

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notyet100 March 21, 2011 at 6:08 am

this looks so superdelicious,..

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Peter March 21, 2011 at 6:42 am

Elly, love the dish and it’s indeed filling – great for a meat-free day. Your recipe is similar to mine which means…it’s delish!

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Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul March 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

This is one of my most favourite Greek vegie dishes…gigantes are def comfort food…and they really are giant sized beans!

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bellini March 22, 2011 at 4:55 am

I will have to keep my eyes open for gigantes Elly. I may have seen them canned at our Mediterranean Market.

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Kelsey March 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Oh Elly, this looks incredible! I’m thinking I’ll make it this weekend before it gets too darn hot to run the oven for that long. (And yes, I realize how annoying this comment is to you. My apologies.)

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Cara March 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm

You’ve totally brought me back to Greece with these! This was a dish I really enjoyed there.

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Joan Nova March 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

That’s the best looking version of that dish that I’ve seen. It’s obvious all the ingredients really melded together.

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Josie March 22, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I have never seen giant beans, but I’m going to keep an eye out now – this dish looks like something we’d really love.

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Heidi March 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm

This looks so good! I might have to sub some different beans though, I’ve never seen giant ones like that :) I love that you made it in a cast iron skillet as well, I’m always looking for new things to make in mine.

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Ivy March 25, 2011 at 3:11 am

This is surely one of my favourite dishes but lately I have been using the Greek black giant beans from Kozani, which are even better in taste.

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josephine September 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

wow! looks amazing, i love the gigandes from my local greek place and this looks better!

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lisa September 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

this looks delish!

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Beth Anne September 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

This was a really tasty dish. Thanks for posting! In the future I would use less dill because that flavor was too strong for my taste, but again, it was an excellent meal. I had no idea lima beans could be so tasty!

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JB December 6, 2014 at 3:36 pm

I made your recipe for the first time a few years back and then lost it and refound it on Pinterest. SO GLAD! I love this dish in my cast iron in the winter.

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elly December 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

So happy to hear that JB!

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