This is one of those recipes that’s better than it sounds (or looks, for that matter). In fact, the ingredients are rather ordinary, but the results are extraordinary. I think what makes it so amazing is that the gigandes beans, which are in my opinion the best dried beans bar none, are cooked in the tomatoes and vegetables for an hour so they soak up the flavors. Whatever the reason, gigandes plaki is amazing and has quickly jumped to the top of my list of staple meals. It actually is easy to make, too. You just need to remember to pre-soak the beans the night before. Or, you can always do the quick-soak method (boil beans for 3 minutes and turn off the stove letting them sit for an hour in the hot water). Serve with a big salad and some crusty bread and you have a complete meal (babies love munching on these beans, too!) I went a little bean crazy the night I made it and served gigandes plaki with a side of favas. Mmmmmm!
Here is my version of this classic Greek dish:
1 lb gigandes beans
4 cloves garlic
2 onions, chopped (sweet onions are best)
2 T tomato paste
1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 T chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried Greek oregano)
2 T chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley
3 T olive oil and ¼ cup more for later
2 pinches good quality cinnamon (I like Vietnamese)
2 T chopped fresh dill
about 4 oz of feta cheese (optional)
Soak beans overnight (or do the quick-soak method). Drain beans and simmer for an hour, or until tender but not soft (test at 50 minutes to see if they are ready). Drain beans. Meanwhile, heat oil in pan and sauté onions and garlic until soft but not brown. Add tomato paste and stir well, cooking for another couple of minutes.