I once ate Gigantes Plaki, baked lima beans made the Greek way, at a Mediterranean restaurant in Baltimore city. It came as a "mezze," an appetizer, served at a restaurant of the same name. I was hooked.
Although I tend not to love anything drowning in a tomato sauce, this dish was different. The creaminess of the lima beans was the perfect foil to the tangy tomatoes, reduced in the oven to a rich, mellow sweetness.
I have since made this dish many times, and although I can't claim that it is a rip-off of the original, I daresay it is pretty good.
Gigantes, as limas are called in Greece because of their gigantic size among beans, are among my favorite beans to cook in a hurry because they get tender on the stovetop in no time at all-- unlike most other beans that require hours, or, if you have a pressure cooker, at least a few dozen minutes. These lima beans are cooked to perfect doneness in about 25 minutes on the stovetop, without any soaking time. Now beat that.
There are also only just a bare minimum of ingredients in this recipe, and nearly everything comes out of a can or a jar, making it perfect winter food. I needed a can of tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, an onion, a few cloves of garlic, and a couple of jarred herbs-- I used oregano and thyme, although dill features quite often in other recipes for this dish.
More recipes to try:
- Lemony Greek Potatoes
- Lima bean mashed potatoes
- Pasta with greens and beans
- Mushroom lima bean stew
- Lima Bean Curry
Greek style baked lima beans
- 1 pound lima beans (dry)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 15 ounces diced tomatoes
- 2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp thyme (dry)
- 1 tsp oregano (dry)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Place the dry lima beans in a large pot and cover with two inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and let the beans simmer until the beans are tender, but not mushy. It took me under 30 minutes to do this, but it might take longer, so be patient. Add more water at any point if needed. Drain the beans and set aside
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In the same pot used to cook the beans, heat the oil and add the onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes until the onions soften but don't brown.
- Add the thyme and oregano, stir to mix, and add the tomatoes and tomato paste with ½ cups water. Stir well to mix and bring to a boil.
- Add the lima beans, mix, and add more salt and ground black pepper if needed.
- Pour out the lima bean-tomato mixture in a large baking dish and spread in an even layer.
- Bake, uncovered, for 60-75 minutes or until the top is slightly crusty.
- Garnish, if desired, with some fresh parsley and serve.