Baked giant beans are one of the most common, traditional Greek recipes, made with white giant beans, tomato sauce, onions, celery, parsley and sometimes garlic and carrots. The method is simple and always works, as soon as you use fresh, good quality ingredients, especially beans. The beans are soaked overnight, the next day they are boiled until tender and they are drained and then mixed with the rest of the ingredients in a baking dish. The vegetables and aromatics should be sautéed first, to make a thick vegetable-tomato sauce. Then the beans are baked for 45-60 minutes until the sauce thickens and all the tastes and aromas are developed. This tasty dish is served as a starter or as “meze” in the taverns but in the Greek household it is usually serves as a main.
However, when I prepare giant beans, I like to add some taste and color by using vegetables such as butternut squash, red peppers, leaks and spinach. The subtle sweet taste of the squash and the leaks balances the sourness of the tomatoes and all the aromas and textures are combined perfectly creating a mouthwatering, hearty dish.
- 400 g giant beans dried, soaked in plenty of water for at least 12 hours
- 2 leeks, washed and sliced
- 500 g fresh spinach washed and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup celery chopped
- ½ cup parsley chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 400 g butternut squash peeled and cut into cubes of 1 cm thick
- 750 g ripe tomatoes chopped
- 1 big red pepper diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- Drain the beans and boil them in pure water until tender for 45-60 minutes. This time I cooked them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes to save time. Season with salt just before cooking is complete.
- Wash, clean and dice the vegetables. In a big saucepan pour the olive oil and sauté the leeks and the garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add all the remaining ingredients together with 2 cups of broth (from beans), salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
- In a baking pan add the giant beans drained together with the cooked vegetables and the sauce and mix.
- Bake in the oven at 200 οC for one hour until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.