24 Sep Large White Beans in Tomato Sauce (Gigantes Plaki)


Large White Beans in Tomato Sauce (Gigantes Plaki)

24 September 2020

PREP. TIME: 5 MIN   -   COOK TIME: 1 - 2 hours   -   SERVES: 4- 6

Metze are the best part of a meal in Greece in my reckoning.  Large white beans cooked in a tomato sauce are standard, delicious fare.

They are not just for Mediterranean holidays though - you can enjoy them anytime.  They satisfy the best of Mediterranean cooking - slow cooked beans in a savoury base of onion, garlic and tomatoes with plenty of fresh herbs.  The beans are full of protein and fibre.

Serve with a selection of other dishes or just on toasted sour dough.

Recipe Template

Use any dried, large, white beans.  I like Pinto beans, but Great Northern, Cannelini and Butter Beans are all good. Berlotti are fine too but will be an earthy colour when cooked.  

If you have no care for cooking your own dried beans you can use tinned beans - for this recipe you will need 2 tins of beans.  Click on this link for information on selecting and cooking dried beans.

Use the best tomatoes you have access to.  I am currently using my own bottled tomatoes from last Summer. Mutti whole tomatoes are the best tinned tomatoes.  Click on this link for more information on how to skin fresh tomatoes.

ingredients for 4- 6 serves

250 g dried beans

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1/2 lemon

A few sprigs of fresh mint or 1 tablespoon dried

Small bunch of fresh parsley

500 g tomatoes

2 - 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of thyme or oregano

2 bay leaves

Salt and Pepper

1 teaspoon sugar


Chopping board

Cook's Knife

Citrus juicer

Measuring cups and spoons

Medium size heavy based saucepan

Wooden spoon

Medium size, heavy based saucepan - I like to use a Dutch Oven

Simmer Mat


Step 1

Soak the dried beans overnight or for a minimum of 4 - 6 hours.

Step 2 - Prepare the ingredients

Peel and finely slice the onion.

Peel and finely slice the garlic - for a milder flavour - peel and keep whole.

Juice the lemon.

Rinse the herbs.

Chop the mint.

Chop the parsley.

Skin and Chop the tomatoes -reserving all of their juices.

Step 3 - Make the Sauce and cook the beans

Place the pot over moderate heat and add the olive oil and onion with a teaspoon of salt.

Cook the onion gently until it softens, then add the garlic.

Once the garlic begins to colour, add the tomatoes.

Drain the beans and rinse and add them with a little thyme or oregano and the bay leaves.

Barely cover with water and simmer gently - partly covered with a lid until the beans begin to soften.  This may take up to an hour even a little more - depending upon the quality of the beans.  You can use a simmer mat to help regulate the heat if you need to.

Taste - Add salt and pepper to season.

Add lemon juice and a pinch of sugar with the chopped mint.

Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender.  Be careful not to overcook them though or they fall apart.

Add parsley towards the end of cooking time.

Taste and season again with salt and pepper as necessary.


Step 4 -

Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm or at room temperature.

You can store the beans in a covered jar or container in the refrigerator for a few days.

To reheat - remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature and then gently reheat in a saucepan.


Recipe by Claudia Roden, Mediterranean Cookery

Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey.

More Recipes

Recipe Video

February 9, 2021


November 7, 2018


May 2, 2019