“Gigantes” in Greek means “giants”. They are very large white beans and they come from an area in northern Greece, in West Macedonia, around the picturesque town of Kastoria. It is built on the shores of the beautiful lake Orestiada, and the houses climb on the hills surrounding it. Needless to say that Kastoria is one of my favorite towns.

Gigantes are very sweet and meaty beans, and very often they are served as a snack to accompany ouzo together with a little cheese, some olives, a few pieces of tomato and cucumber, and occasionally a sardine or a few slices of salami. Do try these beans, if you are looking for something different and tasty. Don’t forget that beans, and all pulses, are very nutritious and should be consumed at least once a week. It is a very nice vegetarian dish and ideal for periods of fasting.

250 gr. elephant beans
½ cup olive oil
3 tablespoonfuls finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoonfuls finely chopped celery
1 onion chopped up
3 – 4 whole cloves garlic (as much as you like)
2 tomatoes grated
Salt, pepper



Wash the beans and soak them in lots of water from the night before. The beans absorb the water and expand, that’s why they must soak in plenty of water. The following day you drain them and put them in a pot with cold, lightly salted water and boil them for about ¾ of an hour. They should be a bit soft but firm. Drain them and put them in a pan.

In the meantime, put some oil in a pan and lightly sauté the onion and the whole cloves of garlic. Add them to the beans in the pan, together with the tomatoes, celery, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper, and about one cup hot water. Put the pan in the oven and bake for about 2 hours at 180oC.

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