Monday, January 21, 2008

Recipe: Gigantes in Savory Tomato Sauce (Γίγαντες Πλακί)

Birds singing, doves cooing, roosters crowing, engines revving, women chattering: the morning sounds of a Greek village.

When we’re in Greece, I treasure my last few minutes in bed listening to the village come alive. I force myself to get up just before the vendors start hawking their wares.

“Potatoes, onions! Good for storing.” The cries echo off stone-walled houses that line the narrow village streets. “Sardines, bream, octopus, squid. Very fresh fish!” When the fish man comes, I often grab money and run to catch him; the seafood comes from the surrounding Aegean Sea and is impeccably fresh.


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Gigantes PlakiGigantes in Savory Tomato Sauce (Γίγαντες Πλακί)
Serves 6 - 8
Gigantes are meaty, and have crisp skin and velvety flesh. To reconstitute them properly, gigantes must be soaked overnight, then boiled until tender, and finally baked in a sauce. If you skip any of these steps, gigantes don’t cook evenly, and can be mealy. Adjust the amount of Aleppo or crushed red pepper to suit your taste for spicy food. 





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29 comments:

Lucy said...

Stunning. I felt I was right there with you, waking to those sounds.

Delicious beans!

Peter M said...

Laurie, Gigantes are one of the best Greek dishes and I might just make a batch this week.

I too love the sounds of Greek life. I now (despite my late nights) wake up every Tuesday morning to go to the Laiki Agora for groceries and the hub-bub.

Cakelaw said...

What a beautifully evocative post - it took me right into the heart of a Greek village. I found your information on the PGI interesting - before I moved in-house, I was an IP lawyer.

Ivy said...

My son has been asking me to make them since he came back from Crete and I've been wanting to make gigantes since Peter posted but haven't yet with so many other things in my list to do. Now I'll have to wait for my son to come back from Australia and I shall definitely cook them. Castoria, Florina and Drama are renowned for their beans. Yummy.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Yum! These look an awful lot like the giant lima beans I can get here. I may have to try the recipe with them.

Baking History said...

Hi Laurie,
this is a very interesting post; I will look for this type of beans to try the recipe you give for gigantes in tomato sauce.
manuela

Cheryl said...

I'm way behind with reading your blog, but I'm glad that I checked it out today. I LOVE gigantes. I make them often but they're never quiet right. I think that the next time that I make them I'll try some of your techniques, like boiling the beans with bay leaves-I've never done that.
I'm in a "beany" mood, just made "fakes" for lunch. I think that as soon as we're finished with this pot I'll go ahead and make gigantes.
Ciao! Patatas! Domatas! Kareklas! (hee, hee)

Ann said...

Wonderful post. You write beautifully!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

What a great post. I loved the story behind this dish. That sauce sounds great!

Susan said...

Waking to the sounds of village life rather than the street sweeper scraping city curbs is my idea of paradise.

Thanks, Laurie, for this beautiful bean recipe!

katiez said...

Thanks for the primer on gigantes! I love beens of all types but was never quite certain what they were...not that I can get them here but if I ever see them, now I know.

Kevin said...

Those beans are big! The tomato sauce sounds tasty. I will have to see if I can find some of those beans.

Laurie Constantino said...

Lucy, that's the best compliment you could give. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And the beans are delicious!

Peter, I'd love to try yours! And you are definitely a night owl.

Gaye, thank you. IP is a very complex field, but quite interesting. I loved finding the EU regulation on gigantes.

Ivy, you're a good mom!

Gretchen, I've never tried them with limas, but I've read other places that they can be substituted.

Manuela, you should be able to find them easily in Boston, I would think.

Cheryl, I am so beany this week it's unbelievable. Fakes a couple days ago for dinner then for lunch, plus revithia tonight. Can't wait to hear how your gigantes come out!

Ann, thank you very much.

Jenn, believe me, the sauce is great. Glad you liked the story.

Susan, it's pretty nice, that's for sure. On the other hand, listening to the street sweeper has its own charm, in a gritty, city kind of way.

Katie, you can make the same recipe with any large white beans. But if you ever do see gigantes, definitely buy them - they are wonderful.

Kevin, they are called giants for a reason! I'm positive you can find them in Toronto. Maybe not the PGI kind, but that doesn't matter one whit.

bird's eye view said...

I love beans of all kinds - wish I had thought to buy some and bring them back from my vacation last year in Greece. And..I envy you for living in Greece!

Cris said...

I would love to wake up in Greece listening to those sounds... a dream vacation...

MARIA V said...

Hey Laurie, looks like we cooked similar food this week! I only just caught up on your blog and found the recipe for gigantes.

Laurie Constantino said...

Bird' Eye, you can buy them at any Greek or Middle Eastern market, or you can order them from Amazon and many other internet sellers. They'll remind you of your vacation!

Cris, maybe you should make reservations!

Hi Maria! Indeed - it's gigantes weather (and now you know why I happened to have so much info about them on hand)!

Lisa said...

Ooh, tagging this right away; must try it! I've had gigantes in tomato sauce just once, at a local Greek restaurant. I'd love to make them myself, using your recipe.

Maddy said...

You've just described two of my favorite memories of living in greece- the vendors selling random items out of the back of trucks ("tables, watermelons, fresh fish!), and gigantes, my favorite greek dish. Thanks for the recipe!

Bijoux said...

Yum! one of my favourite Greek dishes. I can never get tired of gigantes :D

Laurie Constantino said...

Lisa, gigantes are really a treat - I hope you have the opportunity to make them yourself.

Maddy, yes, I love the vendors too. I'm glad the piece brought back good memories for you.

Bijoux, me either!

ThreeTastes said...

Ooohh, a new legume to search out. This looks really good!

Nupur said...

What a beautiful essay this is! I can just imagine the creamy taste of the bean enveloped by that spicy sauce.

sra said...

This is a beautiful post - you've painted a very beautiful picture of Greece for me - will surely be back to read more posts.

Laurie Constantino said...

Manju, I do love my legumes, and this is a particularly good one.

Napur, thank you for the kind words!

Sra, Greece is wonderful and I'm so glad you liked the post. Thanks for stopping by!

Meg Wolff said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post with the sounds of Greece. Interesting that you mentioned about the cooking time being shorter for fresh beans ... I have noticed this too as I have recently found "local" beans. The taste is better too. I found you through the Legume Event. Thanks.

Laurie Constantino said...

Meg, I agree with your observation about the better taste of local beans. As for the legume event - all I wish is that I had time to make them all! Susan did a really nice job with her round-up and making all the food sound very appealing.

carole said...

here in Greece, i learned from my mother-in-law ,to cover with olive oil the unused portion in a can of tomato paste, and keep on fridge door. it seals it perfectly, and keeps for weeks.
i'd love to know what island here in greece you spend time on, Laurie :)
carole

indosungod said...

I tired this amazing recipe which has been in my bookmarks forever. With an abundance of home grown tomatoes it couldn't wait any longer. I Indianized the recipe a bit but keeping the tomato sauce idea intact. Tomatoes with the smooth Lima beans were just perfect. Thank you.