These Twice-Cooked Gigante Beans were the recipe that inspired me to make Garlic Confit, and I'm hoping you will immediately file this in the visual category of tasty-but-gloppy-looking things like refried beans and hummus. Admittedly these long-cooked beans won't win any beauty contests, but this is one of the most flavorful bean dishes I've ever made. The recipe came from How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking, a very interesting cookbook I got from Lydia, and I tried the beans out on my dad and Rand, who both declared them to be delicious!
Two notes about how you might need or want to adapt this recipe. First, if you don't find Gigantes bean (also spelled Gigandes beans or Gigante beans), I'm sure this can be made with some other type of large white bean such as cannellini beans but the cooking time will be a little shorter. Second, if you simply don't have time to make the garlic confit, I'd saute some chopped garlic over very low heat for a few minutes as a substitute. It won't be quite a dreamily garlicky as the garlic confit, but as long as you're careful not to burn the garlic it should still taste pretty amazing.
Start with one pound of Gigante beans, soak overnight in cold water, and the next drain the beans and discard the soaking water. (You can buy Gigantes Beans at Amazon.com if you can't find them and want to use the real thing. Kalyn's Kitchen does earn a few cents on the dollar if you follow that link and buy the beans at Amazon, so thanks!)
Add tomato paste, water to cover, and season with salt and pepper, then simmer until the beans are tender. This took nearly 2 1/2 hours for my beans (which were a couple of years old) but fresh beans will get tender in 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.
Here's how the beans look when they're tender. Remove beans with a slotted spoon and reduce the cooking liquid until it's thick. (For me, the liquid was quite thick from the long cooking time, but if not I would simmer until it's reduced to about 1 cup.) Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
Add the reduced liquid back into the beans along with some garlic confit (or sauteed garlic), thinly sliced green onion, and crumbled feta.
The recipe called for it to be topped with a type of cheese called Graviera, which I didn't have. They suggested Gruyere as a replacement, but I used Pecorino-Romano cheese. (I'm not sure I'd add this cheese next time; I might just top the finished beans with more crumbled Feta instead.)
Bake 30-40 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly bubbling and the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.Twice-Cooked Gigantes Beans with Garlic and Feta
(Makes about 8 servings, recipe adapted very slightly from How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis.)
1 lb Gigantes beans, soaked overnight (also spelled Gigante beans or Gigandes beans)
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely copped
1-2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 dried bay leaves (or use 2 fresh bay leaves)
2 T tomato paste
water to cover beans
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup garlic confit (or several tablespoons minced garlic, sauteed in olive oil at very low heat)
1 C crumbled Feta cheese
4-5 green onions, very thinly sliced
Pecorino-Romano or Gruyere cheese to sprinkle over beans before baking (optional, next time I think I would serve with some more crumbled feta and skip this)
chopped parsley for serving, optional
Put beans in heavy pot, cover with cold water by several inches and soak overnight. The next morning, drain beans and discard soaking water. Wipe out pot with paper towel. (If you're using garlic confit, start it cooking in the oven now, before you start cooking the beans.)
Chop onion, celery, and carrot. Heat olive oil in the same heavy pot, then saute the vegetables in olive oil with dried or fresh bay leaves for about 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are soft but not browned. Add soaked beans, tomato paste, salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and enough water to cover and bring to a low simmer. Partially cover and simmer until beans are tender. With fresh beans, this will take 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, but if your beans are a bit older (like mine were!) it may take several hours for then to get tender. Add more water a few times if needed.
Once beans are tender, remove them with a slotted spoon and place in crockery or glass casserole dish. Reduce the cooking liquid if needed until you have about 1 cup of thick liquid. (If you're using minced garlic, start sauteeing it now in olive oil over very low heat. Saute just until the garlic starts to get fragrant without browning.)
Add reduced cooking liquid, chopped garlic confit (or minced garlic you have sauteed in olive oil), crumbled feta, and sliced green onions to the beans, stirring gently so the ingredients are well-distributed. Top with grated cheese if desired. Bake beans 30-40 minutes, or until they're gently bubbling (and cheese is melted and lightly browned, if using.) Serve hot. If desired, top each serving with a bit of chopped parsley and a little more crumbled feta.
These low-glycemic beans could be a great meatless main dish or side dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but you would need to omit the carrots to eat them for phase one. Also, if you're eating them for phase one remember that dried beans are limited to 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup serving size, so have a small serving of beans with a perfect green salad on the side. For phase 2 or 3, you could serve this with a crusty slice of 100% Whole Wheat Bread.
More Recipe Ideas for Gigante Beans:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup with Giant White Beans, Ham, and Bay Leaves from Kalyn's Kitchen
Gigantes in Savory Tomato Sauce from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
Gigantes/Yiyantes (Greek Giant Baked Beans) from Thursday for Dinner
Gigantes Plaki (Greek Baked Beans) from Closet Cooking
Baked Gigantes Beans from Cook Almost Anything
Pan-Fried Giant Beans from Greek Food - Recipes and Reflections
Snails with Gigantes Beans and Artichokes from Kalofagas.ca
Giant Chipotle White Beans from 101 Cookbooks
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)