Baked Gigantes With Honey and Dill
There are so many great recipes all over Greece for braised or baked giant beans, called gigantes. These butter, comforting beans marry well with everything from tomatoes to feta and spinach. This recipe is one of my favorites and may be served as an appetizer, vegetarian main course, side dish or meze. You can also enjoy it hot, warm or at room temperature.
- 1 lb. / 450 g dried Greek giant beans
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml Extra-virgin Greek olive oil and more as needed or desired
- 3 medium-large red onions chopped
- 5 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and whole
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 cups Plum tomatoes peeled, seeded, chopped
- 4 tbsp. Ikarian or other Greek pine honey divided
- 1 bunch fresh dill chopped
- 2 - 4 tablespoons Greek balsamic vinegar to taste
- 2 tbsp. Santorini or other Greek tomato paste
- Pepper freshly ground
- 2 – 3 tbsp. crumbled feta for garnish
Soak the beans overnight in ample water. Drain the next day. Place in a large pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, skimming the foam off the top. Simmer beans for 1-1 ½ hours, until tender but firm.
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).
Remove beans from heat and drain, but reserve the water.
Place beans in a large baking pan with 6 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil. Mix the the onions, garlic, carrot, bay leaves, and the tomatoes. Stir in about 1 ½ cups of the bean cooking liquid, just enough to barely cover the beans. Stir in half the honey. Mix thoroughly. Cover the pan with parchment then aluminum foil and bake for about 1 – 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick and creamy. Add more water throughout baking, if necessary, to keep the beans from drying out.
Fifteen minutes before removing from oven, add vinegar, tomato paste, salt and pepper. As soon as the beans come out of the oven, stir in additional honey and vinegar to taste as well as the chopped dill.
Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, sprinkled if desired with crumbled feta and drizzled with additional olive oil.