These giant beans are grown mostly in the north of Greece and they need a lot of cooking. You can usually find them in Greek, Turkish or Asian shops, or do as I do and fill any spare room in your suitcase with them when you go on your next trip to Greece or Cyprus!
You can also use Haricot or Lima (elephant) beans.
450gr dried gigantes, lima beans or elephant beans
4 loukanika (Greek or Cypriot sausages), thickly sliced
1 large onion, chopped or sliced
2 carrots, diced
2 sprigs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 medium ripe fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 x 500gr tomato passata
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp parsley, chopped
150ml (¼ pint) olive oil + extra
Salt & pepper
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Crumbled feta cheese, optional
Soak the beans in cold water overnight, drain and place in a large saucepan, cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for 10 minutes, drain the beans and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil again, lower the heat, cover with a lid and simmer the beans until soft for about 1 ½ hours, depending on the age of the beans – keep checking the water so they don’t go dry – taste the beans to see if they are bite soft.
Prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion, carrots and celery for 7-8 minutes until softened. Add garlic and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add the fresh tomatoes and stir fry them, then add the tomato purée and the passata, cook for 5 minutes, season with salt, pepper, oregano, sugar and chilli flakes and pour 600ml of hot water. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes, then mix in the parsley and remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 180c / 350f.
Drain the cooked beans and place them in a round dip clay pot or an oven dish, pour the tomato sauce over the beans and stir together, mixing in the sliced sausages and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with double foil and bake for about 1 hour.
Remove foil, if too dry, mix a little hot water and bake the beans for 15 minutes more so the top goes slightly brown.
Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes and if you wish, sprinkle with crumbled feta and serve lukewarm Greek style with extra virgin olive oil and crusty bread.