Gigantes - a vegan family favourite

I was introduced to this delightful Greek recipe by my university friend Chris (for our sins, we were subwardens together) who is half Greek and has been vegetarian for as long as I have known him, which is 26 years! He has an annoying habit of referring to meat as “dead cow”, “dead pig” - you get the gist! I don’t do that, you’ll be relieved to hear! Anyway, this is his Greek mother’s recipe. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity. It’s delectable.


  • Tinned butter beans in water (for us tomorrow, I’ll probably be using around 6 tins)
  • Fresh tomatoes (enough to make a sauce for the beans – so I’ll probably be using 8-10 of them to the 6 tins of beans
  • Finely chopped onions (again number depends on quantity you are making)
  • A few cloves of chopped garlic
  • A large bunch of fresh parsley. The more the better – chop it just before using it
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil (NOT the pale mild variety)
  • Rapeseed oil for the cooking because it has a high smoke point and won’t spoil
  • Vegan Kallo Stock cube (number depends on quantity but 1 or 2)

Step 1

Heat, on a low to medium flame, a good glug of rapeseed oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the chopped onion. Allow it to cook until translucent

Step 2

Add the garlic and cook gently. Don’t allow it to brown

Step 3

Whizz the raw tomatoes up briefly in a food processor so that you have a lumpy “sauce” and add this to the saucepan. Crumble in the stock cube/s, stir and heat.

Step 4

Add the drained butter beans and mix them into the tomato and onion sauce. Pop the lid on the pot and allow everything to simmer along so that the sauce thickens and becomes richer. You might wish to add in a squirt of tomato concentrate but it’s often perfect just as it is.

Step 5

At the very end, add in masses of freshly chopped parsley and a really generous glug or two or three or four (if you’re me) of the high quality olive oil. You want one of those olive oils that gets the back of your throat with it’s pepperiness! Mix and that’s it.

Typically, I serve this with steamed greens in winter (basically my family gets steamed veg every day!!) or a salad in summer and the boys will have it with lots of crusty bread. Sometimes I prepare roasted, skin-on potato wedges for the boys as an accompaniment, rather than the bread.

FYI this keeps very well refrigerated in an airtight container, so I usually make enough for two meals in the week.