If you have not heard of Gigantes Plaki before, then you are in for a treat. It is a Greek dish that translated to 'giant baked beans', but this is our quick stove top version (with oven instructions too) for a quick and easy dinner that is bursting with flavour. Creamy butter beans in a rich tomato sauce topped with plenty of fresh herbs and feta.
I want to star this off by saying this isn't the traditional way of cooking Gigantes Plaki, as it would usually be done in an oven and cooked over a longer period of time. We have included the instructions for that too, but this is out 15 minute version because we love Greek flavours, but we also don't have a lot of time.
This is a hearty meat-free dish that is bursting with Greek flavours and requires very little preparation. Easy to adapt with different vegetables (although, this would make it less traditional) and easy to make vegan too.
Why you will love it
- Easy - Just a few store cupboard ingredients is all it takes to make this recipe and then the options for some fresh ingredients on top. Sometimes simple food is the best.
- Quick - The traditional version of this would be done in the oven and cook low and slow. We wanted these beans as quickly as possible, so we made a cheats version on the hob and it's ready in just 15 minutes. You can do it in the oven if you have more time though.
- Protein packed - The butter beans make this a protein packed and filling meal. You can eat it by itself of add some sides to bulk it out even more.
- Freezes well - This is a good meal to batch cook because it freezes so well. We always make a double portion so we can keep some in the freezer for busy days.
- Butterbeans - This is the bulk ingredient of Gigantes Plaki and what makes it so protein packed. If you haven't had butterbeans before, you are missing out. They are so creamy and delicious - and excellent meat-free protein. You could swap them for something like cannellini beans or chickpeas, but it wouldn't be traditional. We used tinned beans to keep this a quick recipe, but you could soak and cook dried beans yourself if you prefer.
- Shallots - You could use a small brown onion (or even frozen onion), but we really like the sweetness of shallots and it compliments the sweetness of the tomatoes.
- Garlic - We only used a couple of cloves of garlic, but if you are a garlic lover then feel free to go heavy on the garlic. We used freshly crushed garlic, but you could use frozen if you prefer.
- Tinned tomatoes - This is the base of the sauce. Try to use the best quality tomatoes that you can, as you really will be able to taste the difference. Inexpensive tinned tomatoes tend to be really watery and you don't want that. You want a nice thick sauce.
- Tomato puree (paste) - Not only will this help to give a more intense tomato flavour, but it will also thicken the sauce. You could use sundried tomato paste too for even more of a tomato flavour.
- Stock - We used vegetable stock to keep this dish vegetarian, but you could use chicken stock to add more flavour. If you are making this for young kids then use a low salt stock.
- Cinnamon - This might seem like a strange addition, but trust us on this. Just a little pinch adds a subtle flavour that goes well with the tomatoes.
- Herbs - Fresh parsley really lightens up the finished dish. You could swap it for coriander or basil if you prefer, but they aren't the traditional herbs that would be used. We also added some dried thyme and oregano, as they are classic Greek herbs.
- Feta - Is it even a Greek dish without feta? Okay, so you don't need to add feta on to everything, but it wouldn't hurt, right? The creaminess of the feta pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the butterbeans and the saltiness balances out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the shallots and garlic. Soften for 2-3 minutes and then add the tomato puree and stir in to the onions.
Two: Add the butterbeans, seasoning and herbs and cinnamon and then add the tinned tomatoes and stir.
Three: Add the stock and then cook on a simmer for 10 minutes.
Four: Transfer to a large bowl and top with fresh chopped parsley and crumbled feta.
Health benefits of beans
Beans are a great source of protein and fibre and rather than serving up a can of beans in sauce, like baked beans, if you make them yourself, then you can make sure they aren't loaded with salt and sugar like the canned ones can be. Beans are also a good source of vitamin B and folic acid.
We wouldn't mess with this recipe too much, as it is a classic Greek dish and it is meant to be simple with just a few ingredients. However, if you wanted to add some vegetables that we would recommend finely diced courgette (zucchini) or aubergine cooked at the same time as the shallots.
If you want to give it a green veggie boost, then adding a couple of handfuls of spinach in towards the end of cooking will make this dish more nutrient dense.
What to serve it with
This is a really filling dish on its own. However, you need something to scoop up all that delicious sauce with, right? Some pitta bread or chunks of crusty bread would be perfect. Or, if you fancy making something from scratch to go alongside this, why not try our Easy Flatbread Recipe.
Looking for some side dishes to bulk out this meals and make it go further? We have got you covered. Why not try our Easy Greek Rice, Parmesan Truffle Fries, Baked Tortilla Chips or Creamy Mashed Potatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a low in calories and low in fat dish that is packed with protein. The beans will help to keep you fuller for longer and you can also add extra vegetables to bulk it out and make it more nutrient dense.
If you have leftovers of this then you can put it in an air tight container in the fridge and it will keep for 2 days.
Yes, this freezes well. The beans don't quite have the same texture once they are defrosted, but it is still delicious. Just make sure that it has fully cooled and then portion it out to freezable containers and it will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just add the feta and parsley on just before serving.
You can either reheat this in the microwave for a couple of minutes or you can heat it through on the hot. Make sure it is hot before serving.
Yes, all the ingredients are gluten free, but watch out for any cross contamination.
If you leave out the feta and use a vegetable stock then this dish is already vegan.
Yes, you could make everything in advance and then keep it in the pan with a lid on until later in the day when you are ready to serve - just heat it through.
Yes, traditionally it would be made in the oven but we wanted to make a quicker version of it. Once you have added all the ingredients to the pan (use an oven safe pan), then put it in a preheated oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 for 30 minutes.
• Try to use the best quality tinned tomatoes that you can, as they are the base of the sauce. Inexpensive tomatoes are too watery and you get a thin sauce rather than the rich thick one that we are going for.
• We also like added in some chopped kalamata olives which really boost those Greek flavours.
• You can swap the parsley for dill, which you will also find in a lot of Greek cuisine.
More bean recipes
- 400 g butter beans - drained
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 shallots - peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves - peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 400 g chopped tomatoes - canned
- 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 0.5 teaspoon dried oregano
- 0.5 teaspoon dried thyme
- 5 g fresh parsley - finely chopped
- 40 g feta - crumbled
- 200ml vegetable stock
- Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the shallots and garlic. Soften for 2-3 minutes and then add the tomato puree and stir in to the onions.
- Add the butterbeans, seasoning and herbs and cinnamon and then add the tinned tomatoes and stir.
- Add the stock and then cook on a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a large bowl and top with fresh chopped parsley and crumbled feta.
- Try to use the best quality tinned tomatoes that you can, as they are the base of the sauce. Inexpensive tomatoes are too watery and you get a thin sauce rather than the rich thick one that we are going for.
- We also like added in some chopped kalamata olives which really boost those Greek flavours.
- You can swap the parsley for dill, which you will also find in a lot of Greek cuisine.