Inspired by Greek gigantes plaki, these easy braised beans are cooked in the oven with tomato sauce and oregano.
Beans. Creamy, tender, cozy beans. I absolutely love them – in grain bowls, soups, mashed on toast, or topped with a fried egg – and eat them almost every day. Unfortunately, as far as many other folks are concerned, beans are like, the most unsexy food in the world. Is it because of the gas? I guess people are terrified of having gas…? It is weird that I’m talking about gas on my food blog? Let’s get the gas thing out of the way…
Yes, eating beans can cause excessive gas due to something called “oligosaccharides” – complex sugars found in beans that are digested in the large intestine. The good news is that once your body gets used to eating beans regularly, this uncomfortable side effect becomes mush less frequent. There are also a few things you can do to make it easier for your body to digest these little guys. The first is soaking your beans for at least eight hours or overnight before cooking them. The second is chewing them thoroughly and not eating too quickly, since digestion begins in the mouth.
Phew. Now that that’s over with, let’s talk about how freakin’ awesome beans really are. First off, they’re packed with fiber and protein, which makes them an all-important ingredient in a plant-based diet. Most beans are also full of vitamins and minerals, like iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Lastly, beans are super cheap – usually coming in at $1-3 per pound – which makes them an economical base for nearly any meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
This recipe is inspired by my most recent visit home. For Sunday lunch, Rene’s aunt ordered in Greek food from Astoria. One of the dishes were these braised beans in a thick tomato sauce. Of all the beans I’ve tasted in my 27 years of life, these were, hands-down, the most incredible. They had a rich creamy texture, a slight tang from the concentrated tomato sauce, and herby undertones thanks to oregano and parsley. I planned to recreate them as soon as I got home.
My favorite thing about these braised beans is that, apart from sautéing the aromatics, the beans are cooked entirely in the oven. Zero stovetop time means you can go about your business while the beans simmer away, leaving you free to make a side dish, or maybe do some laundry or reading on the couch with your feet up. Another thing I love is how versatile they are. They’re perfect for meal prepping on Sunday night and enjoying throughout the week either by themselves or in various dishes.
These braised beans can be served:
- with grilled bread and a green salad
- with roasted cauliflower
- over zucchini noodles, whole wheat pasta, or creamy polenta
- topped with a fried egg
This recipe makes upwards of eight servings so if you don’t plan on eating them within a few days, freeze half of the dish.Print
Inspired by Greek “gigantes plaki”, these creamy braised beans are cooked in the oven with tomato sauce and oregano. Serve with zucchini noodles, whole wheat pasta, or polenta.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 pound dried large lima beans (sometimes labeled butter beans), soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours, drained, and rinsed (See Note #1)
- One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- About 3 cups vegetable stock (low sodium, if possible)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Minced Parsley, to serve
- Grilled bread, to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
- In a Dutch oven or another large heavy-bottomed, high-sided, oven-safe pot (see Note #2), heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until soft and translucent, stirring frequently to prevent browning, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and oregano and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the beans, tomatoes, just enough stock to fully submerge the beans, pepper, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Cover tightly with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Transfer to the oven and cook until the beans are creamy and tender, about 1 hour and 15 mins (the cook time may be shorter or longer depending on the age of your beans).
- Taste the beans and season with more salt, if needed. Garnish with parsley before serving.
- If you didn’t have a chance to soak the beans overnight, you may soak them using the Hot Soak method by placing the beans in a pot, covering them with boiling water, and letting them stand for 1 hour. Then drain the beans and proceed with the recipe.
- If you don’t own an oven-safe pot, you may start the recipe in any large high-sided pot, then transfer the contents to a baking dish (such as a glass Pyrex), and cover it with foil before placing in the oven.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of the recipe
- Calories: 313
- Carbohydrates: 57 g
- Fiber: 16.8 g
- Protein: 16.9 g