Gigantes Plaki (vegan)

…AKA Big Baked Beans! The more cultured, well travelled older brother to the speedy tea we all know and love. Gigantes Plaki can be enjoyed at room temperature as part a of a mezze or atop some sourdough toast. Ideal use for ripe tomatoes!

Whilst seasoning tomatoes with sugar is common it always feels a bit ‘wrong’ as I prefer to taste the dish nearer the end to decide whether further sweetness is necessary (especially when using a peak season UK tom!) so I omitted. I did add a little sweetness in the form of a few spare cherry tomatoes and 2 roasted peppers from a jar, blitzed with the garlic and tomato puree to thicken and flavour. Tasty but not especially authentic!


  • 400g dried butter beans
  • 3 tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • optional: 2 roasted peppers from a jar
  • 800g ripe tomatoes, skins removed, roughly chopped
  • Optional: a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to serve


  • Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water. Drain, rinse, then place in a pan covered with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, then simmer for approx 50 mins until slightly tender but not soft. Drain, then set aside.
  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, tip in the onion and garlic, then cook over a medium heat for 10 mins until softened but not browned. Add the tomato purée (and roast pepper puree if using), cook for a further min, add remaining ingredients, then simmer for 2-3 mins. Season generously, then stir in the beans. Tip into a large ovenproof dish, then bake for approximately 1 hr, uncovered and without stirring, until the beans are tender. The beans will absorb all the fabulous flavours and the sauce will thicken. Allow to cool, then scatter with parsley and drizzle with a little more olive oil to serve. 
  • If you prefer, use 3 x 400g cans butter beans. Make the sauce as recipe, tip in the drained and rinsed beans, then continue as before.