White Giant Beans in the Oven (Gigades)

This recipe belongs to the original traditional Greek category. In taverns you mostly get beans as a small meze with tsipouro or ouzo, but you can also cook them at home as a main dish, put them in salads or soups. I used white “gigades” beans (gigades means giants in Greek) from Prespes, a famous for its natural beauty mountain lake region in northwest Greece’s borders with Albania and FYROM. It has been named a “Landscape of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and it is considered a wetland of international importance.

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They are famous there, not only for the natural environmental beauty, but also for their quality beans, which means they are not at all gassy as someone would expect and they are full of unique savory flavor. This recipe takes quite a time and needs a lot of attention and devotion, but be sure that it’s worth it! When boiling them use only wooden spoon and never add salt before they are completely boiled, otherwise it can stop the boiling process. Read carefully and enjoy!

Prep time: at least 1hour and 40 min. Serves up to 6 people.

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600gr white giant beans of Prespes
1 big carrot cut in slices
1 cup tomato juice
1 white onion
2 garlic cloves smashed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon parsley
some feta/yogurt

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The evening before you cook the beans put them in a bowl and cover them with water. Let them rest. You will see the next day that they have absorbed all the water and they have doubled in size. Add some more before you go to work.

Take a big soup pan and put the beans in. Use only wooden spoon. Add water just to cover them. Add the onion full or cut in half – not smaller. Boil in medium heat till the beans are soft, 30-40 min. Do not add any salt, it will stop the boiling process and you will end up having hard beans. Try one bean and see if you can chew it. If it is not soft enough keep on boiling the rest. Add only boiled water when needed.

After they are boiled, transfer them in a big glass oven dish. If there is too much water, take some out. You need to have at least 1cm water in. They will need it for in the oven. Take the boiled onion and mash it in a blender.

Add the carrot, mashed onion, tomato sauce and garlic in. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and paprika. Add the mint and parsley and finish with the olive oil. At this point you can also add some sun-dried tomatoes for extra taste. Mix everything together. If you think more olive oil is needed, add some.

Bake it in the oven for 30-40 minutes in 200°C . Check it often because you don’t want it to be dry. If more water is needed, don’t be afraid to add. When it is cooked and all flavors are combined – always try it before turning off the oven – take it out, leaving some water in. This water will be still absorbed and give an extra moisture to the food.

Serve with some feta or Greek yogurt.


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