Large baked beans with bacon in tomato sauce (Gigandes/Gigantes plaki)
Large baked beans is a favourite Greek dish also called "Gigandes (or Gigantes) plaki". In this version we added some bacon to give it a "country" flavour. It takes some time to prepare and cook it, but it's totally worth it. The result is superb!
- 500gr/17.5oz large white beans
- 2lt (8 cups) water (needed during simmering)
- 500gr/17.5oz tomato, grated
- 150gr/5.2oz bacon (7-8 slices), finely chopped
- 220gr/7.7oz (2 medium sized) onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 30gr/1oz dill (1/3 bunch), finely chopped
- 250ml (1 cup) olive oil
- 250ml (1 cup) water (needed during baking)
- 40gr/1.4oz (2 tablespoons) tomato paste
- salt and pepper
Preparation: Put the beans in a large bowl filled with water (the volume of the water must be at least 3 times the volume of the beans), and leave them overnight to soak. The next day, before cooking, discard the water and rinse the beans.
Put the beans in a large pot, add the 2lt of water (8 cups) and put it on medium to high heat.
Once it starts boiling, reduce the hear to medium-low and let it simmer for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove the froth, if any. Check if the beans have been cooked by tasting one after this phase. If they are ready (soft), remove from heat. If not, continue to simmer, until they are. Add some water if needed.
When ready, drain the beans, and put them in a medium sized baking pan/casserole dish.
Then, start cooking the sauce:
Put a deep frying pan or a small pot on medium to high heat and add half of the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes (until translucent). Add the garlic, stir and after a minute add the grated tomato and the tomato paste, some salt and pepper, stir and cook for 5 minutes. The sauce is now ready for the next phase.
Pour the sauce into the baking pan on top of the beans. Add the dill, the 1 cup of water and the rest of the olive oil. Stir carefully (to avoid mashing the beans) and put the baking pan in a preheated oven at 200C / 390F for 30 minutes, in the middle rack. Then add the bacon, stir (carefully again) and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. It's important to check the pan while baking as you may need to add some water if there is not enough moisture in the pan during baking.
Remove from the oven, and set aside for a while to cool. Serve with some feta cheese and olives on the side. Kali oreksi!
1. This is amazing for vegetarians as well; simply remove the bacon from recipe and cook for the same amount of time.
2. It's important to use beans that are recently bought and are fresh. They will cook faster and taste better. Drier beans may take more time to soften.
3. If you want to reduce the cooking time then you can use a pressure cooker. Boil the beans in 1lt (4 cups) of water for 10 minutes without the lid, change the water, close the lid and cook for another 20 minutes with the same amount of water. The baking in the oven will be reduced to 20 minutes this way.