Complete List of Recipes & Reflections

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gigantes Tiganiti … Pan-Fried Giant Beans

Gigantes Tiganiti … Pan-Fried Giant Beans make an excellent appetizer dish.

Since time immemorial beans and legumes have figured prominently in regional dishes throughout Greece. Dried Gigantes beans (pronounced YEE-GAN-DES) are a staple of Greek cookery and can usually be found in Greek specialty shops and bakeries, or most well-stocked supermarkets around the world.

Also referred to as Elephant beans, Gigantes are about 1 inch long or roughly twice the size of conventional lima beans, and are a variety of runner bean. Cultivated largely in north central Greece, these beans can be prepared and served as an appetizer, as part of a salad, or as a main course. Indeed, this bean is so popular in Greece that five varieties of Gigantes/Elephant beans have been recognized as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) / Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) produce by the European Union.

The extraordinarily meaty and buttery texture of this extra large bean has served to make them a ubiquitous menu offering in Greek tavernas and restaurants the world over. However, the version you will usually find in such eateries is one where they are baked in a rich tomato sauce.
This particular recipe is popular on the Cyclades Islands and makes for an excellent appetizer dish.


1 cup dried Gigantes (Greek Elephant Beans)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil*
Salt & pepper

1. Soak the beans in water overnight to re-hydrate them. Drain the water and rinse the beans well before cooking.
2. Add beans to a pan with enough cold water to cover the beans by about 1 inch or so. Add salt to water and bring to a boil then simmer for ten minutes.
3. Drain beans, rinse them with cold water and return them to the pan. Add fresh cold water to the pan along with some salt and once more bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes until beans are tender. Remove from heat, drain water and set the beans aside.
4. Beat milk and egg well in a small bowl. Sift the flour into another small bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Put the breadcrumbs into a third bowl.
5. Heat oil in pan. *NOTE: You need to ensure that there is enough oil in the pan to almost, if not completely, cover the beans when they are added to the pan. My suggestion would be to use a smaller pan which will require less oil.
6. Flour the beans in small batches then dip them in the egg mixture and then cover them with breadcrumbs. Fry them in small batches and be ready to turn them over quickly in the pan to cook both sides evenly - stay on top of them when frying as they don't require very long and you don't want them to burn. Remove beans from the oil when a uniform golden brown outer colour is achieved.

Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve warm.

Garnish with chopped parsley.

Kali Orexi!

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand

Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.


Peter M said...

Haha....these are brilliant Sam and I've never tried nor heard of these.

Next time I make gigantes I'll fry up a batch.

Bravo sou!

Monica Pileggi said...

Hello Sam, thanks for visiting my blog. I will enjoy looking through your recipes, as I do love Greek food. The gigantes recipes looks scrumptious, yet easy to make.


Ivy said...

Hi Sam, these gigantes are so appetizing. I never heard of these pan fried version before and shall definitely try them.

Lin said...

Hey Sam, Thanks for the blog comment and while I'd never heard of frying gigantes, I can't imagine that they'd be anything but fantastic. As I always say, you could fry a shoe and I'd no doubt like it.

And no, I can't remember what the meal was that we had lo those many years ago (remember, I can't even recollect where we went that night, much less what we ate for dinner!) just that it was fun, noisy and exuberant

Laurie Constantino said...

Hi Sam, these look wonderful. I love gigantes, but have never seen them this way.

One thing, it is true that many sources of information claim gigantes are a form of white kidney bean. That is actually not accurate. I researched this for a piece on my blog about gigantes. Gigantes and Elefantes are a form of runner bean, related to the scarlet runner bean, called Phaseolus coccineus (multiflorus. See links on

Can't wait to try the Pan-Fried Gigantes!

Lulu said...

Excellent! Finding foods that can be fried is a service to humanity!

By the way, I did add you to my blogroll.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. The recipes and pictures on your blog look great! I'll have to try some of them out.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

How clever is this. High protein snacking! Fantastic idea, thx

White On Rice Couple said...

Wow, you've got some great Greek inspirations here! Where have yo been all this time? :)

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Peter - These are something I ran across on Santorini.

Monica - I am sure you'll find something you will like! If not, send me your complaints... :-) Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment!

Ivy - I would love to hear what you thought of them once you try them.

Lin - Yes, frying makes everything taste better! As for memory... I know what you mean, I have trouble remembering what I ate yesterday, never mind years ago! Thanks for dropping by!

Laurie - Thanks for the correction! I have corrected the article and provided a link to the Wikipedia entry on the runner bean, plus a link to your Gigantes recipe wherein you present your research. :-)

Lulu - Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, hope I don't disappoint... ;-)

Angela - Welcome! By all means, please do try some (or all) of my recipes!

Nina - Fried goodness! Now can it get any better than that?

White on Rice Couple - I have been waiting for the most opportune moment to appear and to preach the Gospel of Greek Food, and so, here I am! :-)

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Ah, Gigandes! I will be growing them this year - got seeds imported from Greece and everything. I typically do them with the tomato sauce, but I have heard about this dish. Thanks for the inspiration!

elephantbeans said...