Warm Gigantes Salad with Pumpkin-Pistachio Pesto
I am always looking out for new ways to serve Greece’s favorite beans, and this Thanksgiving I’ll be serving classic Greek giant beans, aka gigantes (GHEE-ghan-des), grown in Feneos, in the western highlands of the Peloponnese, in a dish that echoes my Greek-American heritage, with pumpkin-pistachio–feta pesto. And, yes, those are Greek pistachios and they’re pretty amazing!
- 1 pound Greek gigantes soaked overnight
- 2/3 cup roasted Aegina pistachios
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 - 6 garlic cloves chopped (to taste)
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley stems removed and chopped
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 cup crumbled Greek feta plus a few tablespoons for garnish
- 2 tablespoons Greek honey or petimezi
- 1 tablespoon Greek balsamic
- Up to ½ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil or more, as needed
- ½ to 2/3 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Place the soaked giant beans in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook the giant beans for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until tender but al dente. Remove and drain, keeping 1 cup of the boiling liquid aside.
Toast the pistachios and pumpkin seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, to release their aromas. In the bowl of a food processor, puree the pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and garlic to a thick paste. Add the canned pumpkin, feta, honey or petimezi, half the fresh herbs, and balsamic and process, drizzling in olive oil in tablespoon increments, until the pesto is thick and creamy.
Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and additional balsamic, to taste. If the pesto is too dense, you can thin it out with a few tablespoons of the bean liquid.
Toss the hot beans with the pesto. Garnish with remaining fresh herbs and additional crumbled feta, and serve.