Gigantes Ston Fournos / baked butter beans

Many Greek dishes take time to make, but they are not very labour intensive. They pretty much take care of themselves, boiling on the stove or baking in the oven. Gigantes Ston Fournos is such a dish, needing both boiling and baking, and the beans even have to soak overnight. But it’s really yummy in the end!

A few words about the beans: Gigantes are large, dried beans, we call them lima beans or butter beans. The longer the beans have been dried, the longer cooking time they need, and so it is difficult to specify the exact time. But start by following the instructions in the recipe, and taste your way. The beans should be completely soft, like butter (hence the name, I guess) when they are ready.

  • 2 cups Gigantes / butter beans
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 grated, ripe tomato, or 1 / 2 tin of tomatoes
  • ½ litre water
  • 1 bunch parsley, or celery leaves if you can find them, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pepper
  • ▪ salt

Place the beans in water overnight. They swell a lot, so use plenty of water in a large bowl.

Heat oil, fry the onion until it just begins to brown, add tomato puree, tomato, water and all the spices except salt. Be careful, it can splutter if the oil is too hot! Cook the sauce for 20 minutes.

Drain the beans, boil them in new water for 20 minutes, and drain again. Mix the beans and tomato sauce and pour this in a wide, ovenproof dish. Bake at 190 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours. Turn the beans occasionally and add more boiling water if it seems dry. Season with salt when the beans are soft and the dish ready. Eat warm or at room temperature, as a main dish or mezé.

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