Raise your hand if you love pototoes! You there, in the back, holding a fist-full of french fries, we see you! And we love you! And, we too love potatoes. Whether they are roasted in the oven, bathed in all sorts of beautiful Greek flavours, or boiled and mashed and then transformed into the very distinctive Greek garlic spread called skordalia, we adore them. Potatoes are so versatile, so available, so economical, that it’s no wonder that the rustic cuisine of Greece has taken this commonplace vegetable and made it the star of a stew which we know will find a happy place in your hearts and stomachs.
Have you ever eaten tahini? Even if you think you haven’t…you probably have. Tahini is the paste of ground up sesame seeds and it is traditionally a key ingredient in hummus. Almost like a nut-butter, tahini is creamy, smooth and very nutritious, being pretty high in calcium and iron as well as protein and fiber…and fat. Whatever! Tahini is not perfect.
In any case, when life gets busy and you just don’t have the time or energy to be in the kitchen for too long, you can throw some chopped up vegetables into a bowl, dress them with this tahini salad dressing, and call it a day. During periods of lent, this salad dressing is particularly handy because it is not only vegan, but it also does not contain any additional oil (the sesame seed paste will produce it’s own oil when crushed up however).
What was that? You want something satisfying, luxurious, super easy and vegan? Oh, good. We’ve got just the thing for you. Gigantes (or gigantes plaki) is a dish that we think you will come back to again and again. In this recipe, beans are prepared into a stew-like casserole, giving you a meal which is at once elegant, yet simple.
Maybe because gigantes are not the most common of beans, people often refer to them as giant lima beans. Despite the fact that they look similar, gigantes are creamier, meatier and hold their shape better than lima beans when cooked; they are not the same thing. When they aren’t mislabeled as lima beans, gigantes are sometimes colloquially referred to as elephant beans. In actual fact, they are white runner beans (which we think sounds much more appetizing than elephant beans…no offence to elephants). Even more officially, and officially Latin, they are classified as Phaseolus coccineus . We think these distinctions are important, particularly because gigantes are so special in Greek cooking. They are so special, in fact, that certain regions of Greece have varieties of gigantes which have been accredited as Protected Geographical Indication products. Take that, lima bean.