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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