These creamy white giant beans in a rich tomato dill oregano sauce are simply begging for a crust of hearty bread to swipe up the tomatoey goodness. Have you ever had these as a meze (small plate) in a Greek restaurant? I always order them when I see them, and I was excited to try making them at home. Gigante beans are aptly named – they are so gigantic that just one bean will practically cover up your spoon! This recipe does take a while, but no step is difficult, and if you’ve got a lazy Sunday afternoon to make this, your home will smell amazing. It’s the kind of dish that is delicious right away, but gets even better over the next couple of days as the flavors and richness have a chance to blend. It’s also worth mentioning for my vegan readers that this dish is naturally vegan. I made this with Royal Corona Beans from Rancho Gordo, my favorite source for heirloom beans. Check them out!
This recipe is adapted from Saveur: The New Classics Cookbook. If you love Saveur magazine, you will love this cookbook, and even if you aren’t familiar with the magazine, you’ll find it’s full of classics with a new twist. I will be making more recipes from it, that’s for sure!
- 2 c. dried giant white beans, picked over and rinsed (I used Rancho Gordo Royal Corona beans)
- 1 c. olive oil, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ c. chopped fresh basil
- ¼ c. chopped fresh dill
- Soak your beans: Place beans in a 6-quart saucepan and cover with 10 cups water. Let stand overnight. (Forgot to soak 'em? Here's a shortcut: Cover beans with cold water, bring just to the boiling point over high heat, remove from heat, cover, and allow to stand for 1 hour.)
- Simmer beans: Drain beans, place in a medium pot, cover with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until soft, 1 to 1½ hours. (When you try the beans to see if they are soft, try at least 3, in case you first picked an overachieving bean that cooked faster than the others. Beans do that sometimes.)
- Make tomato sauce: While the beans are simmering, heat ½ c. olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and oregano, and simmer (stirring occasionally) until sauce thickens slightly and oil rises to the top, about 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender) to puree until smooth. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Finish beans and sauce together: Drain beans and add to tomato sauce. Stir in basil, dill, and the remaining ½ c. of olive oil. Increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionnaly, 15-20 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with some nice crusty bread for dipping. Enjoy!