I have been so inspired by the plant-based Mediterranean flavors in Greece, ever since my first visit there. And this recipe for Cretan Gigantes Beans, which is completely plant-based (vegan) and gluten-free, is my translation of one memorable meal that I enjoyed in Crete. One of my favorite things to order while in Greece was one of the myriad bean dishes on most menus. One in particular that I loved at an adorable taverna in the village of Vamos in Crete featured gigantes beans—literally gigantic beans! These large white, fleshy beans are so rich and satisfying! You can find gigantes beans in specialty shops or online, or you can substitute large lima beans. I brought a bag of gigantes beans back with me from my trip, which was the inspiration for creating this recipe. Gigantes beans are traditionally served in a tomato vegetable broth, which I reproduced in my easy version here.
Gigantes beans or large lima beans are a perfect match for this recipe. The large fleshiness of the beans work well in this plant-based entree. This recipe is oh so simple—dried beans, onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, herbs, and some good olive oil (of course!). That’s it! Just 9 ingredients, yet the results are so satisfying and nourishing—to the mind, body, and soul. Serve this recipe with a crusty whole grain bread (as I had in that tiny taverna, while the chef’s cat rubbed against my ankle!) so you can sop up every last bit of the good vegetable broth at the bottom of your plate! This combination is also a nutrition match made in heaven. Oh, and add a crisp Greek salad for a completely balanced meal that is delicious and so easy on the pocketbook. You will feel like you’re on a trip to Greece with this menu. The only thing you’ll be missing is a bottle of local wine, which is easily remedied.
Place beans in a pot, cover with water, and soak overnight.
Drain water, add 4 cups fresh water, onion, garlic, carrots, tomato paste, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and black pepper.
Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender. Add water to replace that lost to condensation as needed. Should make a thick, stew-like consistency.
Season with salt, as desired. Drizzle with olive oil.
Instant Pot Directions: Place all ingredients in the container of the Instant Pot. Press “Bean/Chili” setting. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve immediately.
Slow Cooker Directions: Place all ingredients in the container of the Slow Cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-12 hours. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve immediately.