Greek giant beans slow cooked in the oven

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Washing Up
Aug 8, 2010
Fondly known in Greece as Fassolia Gigantes Plaki

Saturated with intense flavour, these tender, plump beans are an example of peasant food par excellence. If you are lucky enough to find the huge, white `giant beans' with which this dish is traditionally made, then snap them up and never mind the expense, but be sure to give them a long soak overnight. They need to absorb water and swell up before being cooked.

In Greece this dish is habitually baked all day long in the coolest part of a wood-fired oven not very practical for most of those in the UK and elsewhere, but if you possess a slow-cooker (or an Aga), now is the time to use it. We cook the beans on top of the stove, but this requires a very solid pan, a low heat, and intermittent stirring to make sure they don't catch no hassle, provided you're spending the day pottering around at home. The long, slow cooking is necessary for the full flavour of the dish to develop, and it's even better if you make it a day in advance.

The beans are traditionally served lukewarm, at which temperature their flavour is most intense.

250 g (9 oz) dried butter beans
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs or Greek oregano
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
450 g (1 lb) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or a 400 g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes and juice
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
230 ml (8 fl oz) dry red wine
salt to taste

Soak the butter beans overnight in plenty of cold water. If you forget, pour boiling water on them, then leave to soak for at least 4 hours.

In a large, heavy pan or flame-proof casserole, warm the oil and saut the onions and oregano for a few minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste and wine.

Rinse the beans thoroughly in more cold water, then drain and add them to the pan. Stir well, and top up with a little water if necessary, so the beans are just submerged in liquid.

Bring it all to the boil, then turn the heat down until barely simmering, put a lid on the pan and cook as slowly as possible, stirring from time to time and adding extra boiling water if necessary, for between 6 and 9 hours, until the beans are tender.

On a gas hob you may need a heat diffuser to get the temperature low enough.

Add salt only when the beans are tender, not before, as it would make them stay tough.

When the beans are cooked to your satisfaction, turn up the heat a little and cook uncovered for a while to reduce the sauce, but only if necessary.

Serve the beans lukewarm, with a little extra olive oil drizzled over them, accompanied by some good hot, crusty bread (or garlic bread), a crisp green side-salad and plenty of ice-cold retsina or rough red wine.


Wow...we're on the same wave-length!
Although your dish is so much better in that it's homecooked, I must use what I just purchased first...I picked up a jar of already prepared Greek Fasolia Gigantes in Tomato Sauce only 3 days ago at Trader Joe's. Today I added about 1/2 Cup of them to my pasta/garlic/oliveoil/pecorino-romano-cheese/plumtomatoes/fresh basil&parsley from my garden/pepper and it is out of this world!

The ingredients on the 12 oz Jar of Fasolia Gigantes (giant white beans...i think they were $2.99?) from Trader Joe's is:
GiantBeans, Onions, SunflowerOil, Carrots, TomatoPaste, Chopped Tomatoes, Salt, Parsley, Sugar, modified PotatoStarch,BlackPepper.

Thank you Linux...i'll try your homecooked recipe next :)

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