If you’ve even seen My Big Fat Greek wedding, you’re probably well-acquainted with Aunt Toula’s famous line: “You don’t eat meat? That’s ok, I make lamb!” Keep reading for my recipe.
For all you “xenos” (foreigners to Greek cuisine), the story isn’t this simple. Gyros, Souvlaki, and Baklava are not the only dishes to savor. Being Greek Orthodox myself, this time of year means Easter, and that means lent! 40 days of no meat– or, if you’re brave and want to live like the Greeks in the remote villages, you can go with only bread and water!
Just kidding, I’m not that hardcore– But veganism is my way to go for lent! Some shudder at the thought of a meatless month, but I find that some of Greece’s best kept secrets are it’s lenten dishes! Let me introduce you to my favorite– Gigantes Plaki!
- Plenty of healthy fats and oils: No butter or trans-fats are used in this recipe. Only the simple goodness of olive oil and healthy legumes. It’s no wonder the greeks are immortal.
- They’re delicious any way: Heat it up, eat it cold, or spoon straight from the pan (my favorite.)
- Rich in Protein: These beans are massive, and that means MASSIVE gains. I enjoy it as a post-workout meal, especially if I feel like my protein is lacking during the lenten season.
- It’s customizable: Adjust the spices and vegetable quantities as you like. I like to add extra mint and oregano in my mix. Some like it naked– no veggies. Come on, we’re Greeks; nothing is measured exactly. A pinch of this and that is fine.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 pound dried beans (gigantes or large lima beans)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (approx 2 medium onions)
- 1/3 cup chopped garlic
- 1 cup chopped celery (approx 2-3 stalks)
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 tbsp crushed, dried oregano
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup Greek olive oil
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups reserved cooking water from beans
- 1 cup water, room temperature
HOW IT’S DONE
- Soak dried beans overnight or at least 7 hours. Boil for 50 minutes and RESERVE 2 cups of cooking liquid
- Saute chopped onions and celery in olive oil over medium low heat until tender. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add herbs and spices, mix to combine completely and cook for just a minute to combine flavor oils.
- Add chopped tomatoes, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved bean cooking liquid and bring sauce up to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to bake the beans.
- Layer cooked gigantes beans evenly in 9×13 baking pan and pour sauce over top. Add 1 cup room temperature water and bake, uncovered, for 2 hours in 350 degree oven. Stir approximately every half hour or so.
- Allow baked beans to rest for about 15-30 minutes before serving.