Gigandes and Greek Menu Help
A few months ago, dear friends brought me a pound of Gigandes dried beans from Greece (they look like big lima beans). I am having the friends over for dinner on Sunday and would like to prepare a delicious meal featuring the beans! I haven't found any recipes that give specific amounts of ingredients, and well, I've never made or had these before, so I might need more guidance with proportions/recipes/etc. Does anyone have a tried and true Gigandes recipe? Also, any accompanying suggestions would be well received. I was thinking about the lamb/eggplant/feta stew from Anne in Minneapolis that she serves over noodles, but I think the stew next to the saucy beans might not be contrasting enough, and also maybe a little weird to serve both. At my disposal: a crockpot, the usual kitchen suspects, a decently stocked pantry, a regular supermarket, and all day Sunday to prepare! I want a simple but delicious meal. Anyone? Anyone? I will report back! Thanks! I'm stumped!
here's my recipe, they taste better the day after you make them, i love them hot but they typically are served as meze at ambient temperature.
2.5 kg Gigandes beans
500 ml olive oil
1kg red onions, chopped
16 cloves of garlic
1kg of carrots, peeled and chopped
1 whole celery (including any leaves) chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme
50-60g Salt (i prefer 60g but you might like less)
freshly ground black pepper
bunch flat parsley and one bunch of basil chopped
some concentrated tomato sauce
soak the beans overnight in cold water
the next day in a large casserole sweat off your chopped veg and garlic in half the oil, leave the lid on and stir now and again. when the veg are starting to get soft throw in the fresh tomatoes and cook them down until mushy. now tie up the thyme with the bayleaves and add that to pot with half your salt cook now on the lowest heat for one more hour
cook the beans in water, bring to boil and then cook at something inbetween a gentle boil and a vigorous simmer, when they are starting to get soft remove from heat.
remove the sprig of thyme from the sauce and keep to one side. blitz the tomato sauce in a blender till very smooth and taste it. depending on the quality of the tomatoes you used you will probably need to add some concentrated tomato sauce. I make my own concentrated sauce by semi-drying out a load of tomatoes on a tray above my cooking range when then i blitz these in a little olive oil. you could however use a good quality passata.
make sure there is not too much water in the bean pot (they should just be covered) and then add the sprig and the tomato sauce and the rest of the salt.
put a lid on the pot and cook at 160C for about three to four hours. when they are ready taste again and add pepper, oil and nicely chopped (not crushed with a blunt knife) herbs.
stir well and taste again. adjust seasoning if necessary. have a sneaky hot bowl with some good bread and then eat the rest the next day with friends, wine and some other meze
I don't know (anything) about Trader Joe's Greek oil, but there are several brands of fine Greek oil that aren't "designer" priced. And unless you're looking for "precise" authenticity, any relatively mild oil will do. Mild in the sense of lacking the green, peppery "bite" people love in Tuscan oils - not mild in the sense of lacking flavor. (In general, yellower rather than greener oils are like that.)
Well,,, "healthy" is relative. It's a lot better than cooking them with a cup of schmalz (lol), but a cup of oil still has around 2000 calories, even if of a sort that won't immediately shoot your lipid profile to hell. :) As the main dish of a veg meal is one thing, but it's a little hardcore as a side dish to an otherwise "hearty" meal.
My mother's Greek so I'm familiar with yigandes and the general category of veg dishes stewed with oil (I especially like stringbeans that way) but my not-in-Greece Greek relatives and acquaintances don't use oil so freely as a generation or two ago might have. They can also afford and eat a lot more meat, and are a lot more sedentary, so again, healthy is relative.;)
FWIW, 1/2 c of is plenty to give the beans the right texture, after that, you can use more or less to taste, and still have "authenticity."
oops, forgot the link but it was emilief's post in the other thread, anyway.
Emilie - they really like them with that much oil, still, these days? Wow! I like that "lathera" style of vegs a lot, but none of the Greeks (mostly immigrant in the US) I know or am related to would use _that_ much oil anymore. Maybe it's the food police influence....
MikeG- Yes, they really like them with that much oil. You would be surprised that they actually do not tast oily after so much cooking. Very good greek olive oil (usually green in color) is the key and really makes the difference in flavor. Don't forget olive oil is healthy! I would not use less than 3/4 cup, which would probably still give good flavor.
Thanks, emilief and MikeG - I did find emilief's recipes for the gigantes (that t instead of d being key), and am planning on making them with your stuffed grape leaves in lemon sauce. One of my dinner guests is Greek-American, and so I wanted to make something that would at least be as good as her mom's version... I know she loves the grape leaves in the lemon egg sauce, so I think I'm going to try that. I really can't afford good olive oil (how good are we talking?) right now, so will a Trader Joe's Greek olive oil be okay? Should I cut back to 1/2 or 3/4 C? These are healthful eaters, but they did fall in love with the Gigantes in Greece -- so I'm trying to replicate a dish I've never had! Also, how much cooking water do you think you end up adding? What's the final consistency? Soupy? Baked Beans consistency? Fairly dry beans with a little tomato/onion around? And is it better to use the canned tomatoes or _okay_ tomatoes from the store (red and decent flavor, not cardboardy)? What else would you serve with the gigantes and grape leaves? Someone posted a warm feta drizzled with honey that I thought might be a nice way to begin. But do I need something fresh and green? Or another element? And any thoughts on a dessert? I don't have it in me to make a complicated Greek pastry! Sorry for all the questions, this is just not a cuisine I'm used to preparing that often! Thank you so much!
Let's see, where do I start? RE stuffed grape leaves- did you find my recipe in the archives?? If not, I will repost. It is very authentic and our friends in Greece jokingly call me the "grape leaf queen". RE the gigantes- the very good greek Oil I buy is about $10 for a quart - if you can find Lapas brand at Whole Foods that would be ok. Have never tried TJ's. I think 1/2 cup of oil is minimum, 3/4 better. If the tomatoes are not cardboardy I would use fresh, but if in doubt get some high quality brand diced tomatoes. The beans should be tender and be "saucy" but I would not say soupy, but definitely not fairly dry. Usually I use 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid during the baking. Just don;t add it all at once.
I think that a yummy garlicy tsatsiki with a crusty loaf of bread and the gigantes for appetizers, plus maybe some kasserri and/ or feta cheese and olives or greek meatballs- keftedes (if you want I have a recipe). With the grape leave, also crusty yummy bread to sop up the egg lemon sauce and, if you don't serve olives and feta as an appetizer, then a greek salad goes well with the grape leaves. If you cant make Greek pastry, then easy choices are a nice rice pudding or thick greek yogurt with honey and walnuts, with a plate of fruit. PS Greek pastry is not complicated: I teach people how to make this all the time and they are surprised at how relatively easy it is but I do think it is good to have someone show you how. Let me know if you want any other recipes. Emilief.
Emilief, yes, I found your recipe for the grape leaves in the archives. I will certainly make this, and have plenty of good crusty bread on hand! I will try to find some good Greek olive oil (I thought you were talking about $30+ when you said that). I don't think I want to serve kefthedes AND meat-stuffed grape leaves... there will be three of us, so I think the meat in the grape leaves will be enough. Can these beans be more of a side dish, or are they really an appetizer? I'll do tzatziki, too - I have your recipe for that as well. Do you have a good Greek rice pudding recipe? Thanks so much for your help!
I serve them as a side dish but my Husband insists that they should be an appetizer- he is from greece so he should know! Either way is ok as far as I am concerned.
I have not made rice pudding in awhile - when I talk to my sister in law in Greece tomorrow morning I will ask her to remind me how she makes it and will post- basically, she puts rice in a pot with milk and sugar and cooks it until it gets thick then tops with cinnamon and refrigerates, but I forget the proportions! Good luck!
PS I agree that the meat in the grape leaves is enough.
To me, it's unthinkable to cook them without tomatoes. There's a recipe in a relatively recent thread that looks pretty good to start with, but it's one of those things you never cook quite exactly the same way twice in a row.
Oh, and the enormous amount of olive oil is indeed "authentic" in a traditional sense (and to me delicious, occasionally), but not to everyone's liking, Greek or otherwise, and certainly not the modern trend in Greek eating habits. Feel free to start with much less, but you definitely need more oil than just what you'd use to fry vegs. Less than about 1/4 cup won't give you the right texture or flavor, but more than 1/2 is excessive unless you're cooking for a time-warped Greek during Lent. lol
I make these all the time for my Greek husband using my sister in law's recipe (she lives in Greece). My husband loves these as do most of my friends- the only thing my husband complains about is that they are always served as an appetizer in Greece ("meze") and not with a meal- I usually make them as a side dish with stuffed grape leaves and egg lemon sauce or come other thing. Nice to serve as appetizer with greek meatballs (keftedes).
Baked giant beans (gigantes plaki)
1/2 kg or 1 lb of dried giant beans
1 cup of good greek olive oil
2 large onions
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight. Boil beans until almost tender and drain, reserving the cooking water.Chop onions finely and puree tomatoes in cuisinart of blender. (If tomatoes are not in season us good canned tomatoes- about 14 oz). Sautee garlic and onions in oil lightly, Add tomatoes, chopped parsley and cook until sauce thickens. Put sauce and beans in ovenproof casserole. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a moderate oven 1- 1 1/2 hours until beans are tender. Add reserved cooking water a little at a time as they are cooking to make sure beans are tender and there is plenty of sauce.Enjoy!
I've been on a big Paula Wolfert kick, and I made these fantastic pork and orange-flavored Greek beans from her "Slow Mediterranean" cookbook. She said to use Greek gigante beans, but if you didn't have them, use white cannellini beans which is what I used. I'd love to see how they would taste with the giant beans! I don't have the cookbook with me, but could paraphrase when I get home tonight if you like. The recipe is a bit involved, but nothing actually hard, and I think you could meld a few steps and still end up with a delicious dish. One thing, though, is that they tasted good the day I made them, but tasted fantastic the next day, so it might be worth making them ahead of time. I served it as a stew with rice and added some bright salad. I also think it would be great as a meze along with some other mezes.
I haven't tried this particular recipe, but I have made many others from the same coobkook - all excellent recipes - "Meze" by Diane Kochilas.
Giant Beans Baked with Roasted Red Peppers and Pastourma
Pastourma is a type of Greek cured meat, I'm sure the dish would be just as good without. She also mentions that the trick is to get the texture right. Gigantes have to be first soaked, then boiled, and then baked. This recipe can be made a day ahead, served warm or at room temperature.
1/4 lb gigantes
1 finely chopped red onion
1 finely chopped garlic clove
4 large roasted red peppers, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
4-6 slices pastourma
Soak beans 6-8 hours. Place in pot with fresh water to cover beans by 3 inches. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for about one hour until al dente. Season with salt the last 15 minutes. Drain, and reserve about a cup of the liquid. Meanwhile, saute 3 Tb EVOO with onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until transcluent. Add peppers and cook for about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Turn oven to 350. In baking dish, combine beans and pepper mixture, 2 tb of olive oil, and about 2/3 cup of the bean liquid. Add salt, pepper, and 2 bay leaves. Cover and bake for about an hour - the beans should be tender and creamy. Add pastourma (cut in 1/3-inch strips) about 40 minutes into the cooking time, and 2-3 tb balsamic 5 minutes before the dish is done. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with more olive oil. Serves 4-6
Maybe serve with shrimp in an ouzo sauce, or baked with tomato and feta? Or maybe lamb meatballs (keftedes) or kabobs?