This quick and easy Greek Gigantes Beans recipe is a speedy version of the meze dish Gigantes Plaki, with tinned butter beans in a rich tomato sauce.
Brrrr... we've put the heating on this week and my winter coat has surfaced from the back of the wardrobe. The clocks have gone back, and it's beginning to feel a lot like autumn.
But instead of craving root vegetable soups and wintery suppers, I've been trying to hang on to the last glimpses of summer, (well British Summertime at least), by cooking summer holiday food - the sort of dishes you might enjoy with a cold glass of wine on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the sea.
Here's a quick and easy recipe based on the traditional Greek 'Gigantes Plaki', (literally 'giant baked beans'), a meze dish of giant white runner beans in a rich tomato sauce.
To make this into a speedy 20 minute recipe, I've used tinned butterbeans instead, which are a really good alternative and save all the faff of soaking and boiling which I never seem to get around to despite best intentions.
I served my Tomato & Herb Gigantes Beans with some crusty bread and a very simple green salad, but with a bit more time you could make up a full meze platter with olives, flatbreads, dips and perhaps some roasted baby new potatoes and marinated and griddled aubergines. Or how about serving with my 'ultimate' Vegan Garlic Bread?
If you're a fan of Greek cuisine, you might also like to take a look at much much-loved Vegan Moussaka. It definitely isn't a 20 minute recipe, but it does freeze well so is a great weekend batch cooking project to prep ahead for delicious meals from the freezer!
What you need to make your Greek Gigantes Beans
Tinned butterbeans These are so cheap, packed with nutrients and have a fantastic texture too so I'm a big fan of butterbeans. You can of course soak and pre-cook your own authentic Gigantes beans, but this is my speedy shortcut version using tinned beans.
Ready-chopped garlic I specify ready-chopped garlic here as this is a speedy 20 minute supper, but if you do have time freshly peeled and crushed garlic has a better flavour.
Paprika gives this stew a warmth and smoky-sweet tang without being overtly spicy. I often use smoked paprika for extra smokiness - it's up to you.
Chopped tomatoes These vary quite a bit in quality - the liquid in very cheap chopped tomatoes is quite watery, and when you are cooking a stew in a fairly short time you want thick and rich juices. So go for a premium chopped tomato here - or even tinned cherry tomatoes which are always excellent.
Dried oregano Oregano is truly a taste of Greece and is all-important in these gigantes plaki. If you can find fresh that's fantastic, but I don't often see it in supermarkets so dried is almost as good.
Fresh parsley and mint Don't skimp on the fresh herbs, they give a zing and freshness to this delicious stew.
Freezing and Storing your Greek Butter Beans
This butter bean stew freezes very well, so you can make up a big batch and freeze in individual portions.
In the fridge it will keep for 2-3 days - just make sure you reheat it thoroughly before eating.
What else can I make with tinned butter beans?
As I mentioned above, I'm a super-fan of tinned butterbeans so you will find lots of recipes that feature them here on the blog. How about trying my:
or a few ideas from blogging friends:
- Choclette’s Chunky Vegetable Soup with Butterbeans from Tin & Thyme
- Chris’ Butter Bean Stew with Pumpkin from Thinly Spread
- Choclette’s Mushroom Pâté with Walnuts from Tin & Thyme
For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
"Brilliant! Chock full of easy recipes and great tips and advice" Hello! Magazine
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Quick & Easy Greek Gigantes Beans
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 tsp ready-chopped garlic / garlic purée (or 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed)
- ½ tsp paprika
- 800 g tinned butterbeans (ie. 2 x 400g tins)
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- handful fresh parsley
- 8-10 fresh mint leaves
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or casserole. Peel and finely chop the onion and add to the pan. Fry over a gentle heat.
- Whilst it is cooking, peel and finely chop the carrot and add to the pan.
- Add the garlic and paprika. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the butterbeans and add to the pan, then add the tinned tomatoes.
- Refill the empty tomato tin half way with water, and add to the pan, along with the tomato purée, sugar and dried oregano. Season well with salt and black pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes until the sauce is thick. If the beans starts to get a little dry, add a splash of water and/or cover with a lid.
- Roughly chop the parsley and mint and stir through the stew just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning if required, then serve alongside crusty bread and a crisp green salad.