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Sunday, 20 January 2013

A GREEK VEGETARIAN DISH

Good Morning to you,

As promised, I am going to show you my version of Gigantes Plaki.

I can hear you asking, what on earth is Gigantes Plaki. Gigantes means large and normally this dish is made with large Greek butter beans. Plaki means baked, so we are going to bake our large butter beans.



This is a delicious side dish, which I learnt how to make whilst living in Cyprus. It can be enjoyed with chicken or meat, or even eaten on it's own, which we sometimes do, with crusty bread dipped in olive oil.

When this dish is cooked, it is best to leave it to cool a little and serve warm, rather than piping hot. If you eat these beans hot, then you loose the flavour. Eaten warm, the flavours are enhanced.

Ordinarily, I would use dried butter beans, or Lima Beans as I believe they are known in America, as they are much cheaper to buy. Tinned or beans in  jars, do cost more, but even they do not make this an expensive meal. Consequently this is a very economical dish to make.  On this occasion I had some large Spanish Beans which I used.

 If you are using dried butter beans, you will have to do one thing the night before. 

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water,  almost to the top, with about two inches to spare. Leave the beans to soak overnight, to allow them to absorb the water. If you have not cooked with dried beans before, you will be amazed how hydrated they become after soaking over night, as they will practically fill the bowl. Hence the difference in weights for the dried and  the tinned beans in the Ingredients list.

The following day, cook the butter beans for 50-60 minutes in a large pan of boiling water. The length of time depends on the age of the beans, the older the beans, the longer it will take them to cook. Do not salt the beans at this stage as salt has a tendency to harden the skins. We will season later.

If you are using tinned or as in my case, butter beans from a jar, then this is a straightforward dish which can be made the day you want to eat it for supper.

INGREDIENTS


400g dried butter beans (Lima beans)
or 3 400g tins of butter beans
3 tablespoons of olive oil 
4 medium onions sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
800g of ripe tomatoes 
or 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon of oregano
Salt and black peppers

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
Use a large dish with at least a 3" depth


Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide pan
and add the sliced onions.
Cook until translucent


Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes,
if using tinned chopped tomatoes,
reserve the tomato juice.


Add the dried oregano
and cook for a further 5 minutes
If you would like to know how to dry your
own oregano see here


Place the butter beans in a large dish


Add the tomato and onion mixture 
to the butter beans and combine 


Add half a pint of water,
but if you are using tinned tomatoes
add the tomato juice, then make up to half a pint with water.
Season with black pepper
and sea salt

Cover with foil, place in the oven for 40 minutes

Remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes

Leave to stand for 30 minutes, as this will allow the butter beans to absorb any remaining liquid.


Drizzle with a little olive oil
Add some crusty bread
and 
Enjoy!

As with all recipes there are little tweeks. I have some friends who use red onions which make the dish a little sweeter, others add tomato paste to give a more distinctive tomato flavour, so I am looking forward to seeing how my friend Dimi who writes the blog Aussi Dimi Decoupage cooks her Gigantes.

Looking out of my window, all I see is snow, everything looks so beautiful.

So whatever your weather, have a lovely weekend and I will see you later in the week.  Until then, take care.






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