Giant beans baked with roasted garlic and tomatoes recipe


There are lots of different ways to prepare giant beans, called gigantes (and pronounced YEE-ghan-dess) all around Greece. The beans, which are similar to what we in American call butter beans but firmer and a tad larger, are a staple on both restaurant and home menus. The beans always have to be soaked for at least 8 hours (be sure to plan ahead), then boiled before being baked into any number of hearty casseroles. They are sometimes baked with greens, or with sausages or other meats, with tomatoes, spices and herbs, and even mixed with seafood or vibrant dressings in salads that are hearty enough to be a main course.

  • Yield: 6 Servings


  • 1 pound (450 g) dried Greek gigantes beans, picked over for debris and rinsed
  • ⅔ cup (160 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil, plus more for drizzling, if desired
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, or 2 tablespoons honey or petimezi (grape molasses)
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) Greek or other balsamic vinegar
  • 20 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 2 large red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large leek, trimmed, washed well, and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • ½ cup (25 g) chopped fresh oregano leaves
How to Make It
  1. Put the beans in a large bowl, add cool water to cover, and set aside to soak for at least 8 hours or up to overnight. Drain and place in a large pot. Add cold water to cover by 3 inches (7.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 1½ hours, or until the beans are tender but firm to the touch.
  2. While the beans are simmering, preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Add the tomatoes and, using your hands or a large spoon, gently toss to coat in the olive oil mixture. Arrange the tomatoes cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top of the garlic head to expose the cloves. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and place it on one end of the baking sheet or on another rack in the oven.
  5. Roast the tomatoes and the head of garlic for 1 to 1½ hours, turning the tomatoes as they shrink and being careful not to over-char them. The tomatoes should be wrinkled, lightly charred, and intensely flavored. Remove the tomatoes and the roasted garlic head from the oven and set aside. Keep the oven on.
  6. While the beans are simmering and the tomatoes roasting, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, leek, and minced raw garlic and cook, stirring, for 12 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown lightly. Set aside.
  7. When the beans are done, reserve 4 cups (1 L) of their cooking liquid and drain the rest. Place the drained beans, roasted tomatoes, and onion-leek mixture in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Unwrap the roasted garlic and squeeze the creamy roasted cloves out of the papery skins directly into the beans. Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to come just above the surface of the beans. Stir in the remaining olive oil and place the rosemary sprigs on top. Cover with parchment paper, then with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are very tender.
  8. Season with salt and pepper immediately after removing from the oven. Remove and discard the rosemary. Gently stir in the oregano. Serve, drizzled with additional olive oil, if desired.

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