I have recently started a healthier diet, in combination with a new gym membership (my poor muscles). Pulses and legumes are a good source of protein, and the Greeks have a variety of baked dishes that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Healthy and yummy, this dish is great warm and cold, as a main dish or as a meze (a variety of dishes in small portions, like tapas). The gigantes beans (which means giant) can be found easily in shops – they also come in the “elephant” size, which is even bigger than the giant ones! They need to be soaked overnight, with a little bit of baling soda before you rinse and boil it slightly – this helps make it softer. Serve with bread and a side portion of feta cheese!
- 500g of dried giant beans, soaked overnight with a tbsp of baking soda.
- 1 cup of olive oil, (plus a bit more to drizzle on later)
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
- 2-3 medium-sized red onions, sliced
- 2-3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped into big chunks
- 1 big bunch of parsley, chopped fine
- 1 tbsp of dried crushed chillies, (and a bit more later for people to add onto their dish as seasoning)
- salt and pepper to taste.
- Rinse the soaked beans thoroughly. Place the beans in a pot and cover with water. Add a tsp of salt, and boil until slightly soft. (It shouldn’t be too soft, or it will turn to mush, and it shouldn’t be too hard either.) It took me slightly more than an hour from the time the water started bubbling. 30 minutes in, you can add in the carrots so it’ll start to cook too.
- Once the beans and carrots are ready, reserve a cup of the cooking liquid and set aside. Drain the beans and carrots, and place them in a baking tray. Cover, and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- In a pot, heat up the olive oil (yes, I know it seems a lot, but trust me, it’s worth it.), and gently saute the onions until slightly transparent. Do not burn the onions. Trick here is to add a pinch of salt on top of the onions.
- Once fragrant and transparent, add the chopped tomatoes and the cup of cooking water that you set aside earlier. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes on medium low.
- Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper, and add more water if it gets too thick. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
- Just before removing it from the heat, add the crushed chillies and stir.
- Slather the tomato-onion sauce onto the beans and carrots, and mix thoroughly. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a bit more water, but only to make it easy to stir.
- Place in the pre-heated oven, and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.
- Increase the temperature to 200 degrees C, and bake for an addition 5-10 minutes until you get a crispy ‘crust’ at the top of the baked beans.
- Remove from the oven, and leave to cool slightly. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil
- You can serve it as it is, with a big chunk of bread and some feta cheese. You can even eat it cold.