Roasted Tomato Gigante Bean Salad

Let me just say that I might have a new favorite bean. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my pinto, black bean, cannelini, and most of all, garbanzos, but there is a new kid on my block and I’m falling hard for him. He goes by the name of Gigante, sometimes Gigande, and I’ve even seen some people use Giganti. He’s totally beefy and much larger than your average bean. Here’s a photo for comparison (note: all of these beans are steamy and at their fully erect size).

And here you can see him from the side—see, super beefy, right?

His texture is soft yet firm, but totally creamy melt-in-your-mouth. Oh, em, gee…I’m salivating just thinking about it.

Oh, and look who spotted one of his favorite foods (and don’t worry your cute little pants off as I disinfected the cutting board after letting him enjoy this mid-afternoon snack.) Anyone else have a cat with a penchant for beans? He plays no favorites and loves them all—so weird!

But here’s the catch—Mr. Gigande is incredibly elusive. I thought Rainbow Grocery, with their extensive bulk bean selection, would for surely carry him. After all they carry peruano beans, ayacote morado beans, black calypso beans, and Santa Maria pinquinto beans! But woe is me after not finding my beloved Gigante there.

Beans at Rainbow

I then went to Whole Foods to see if he might be there. Since I have been meeting him there for our regular trysts at the salad bar for months now, surely they would stock him in bulk! But no such luck for me at Whole Foods and I walked out the door empty handed.

Hmmm…I didn’t want to have to go back to his native land, Greece, to track him down. On the other hand, maybe that would be the perfect excuse for a trip? Either way, I wanted to be able to see him more frequently—like every day. I wanted to be able to find him here and enjoy him when it strikes my fancy!

So I was then reduced to stalking him on the internet: “Where the hell can I find Gigante beans in the Bay Area?” was my Google search. It became clear to me through this search that I am not the only one who has fallen for him—apparently he’s quite the charmer and has made the rounds—but it seems that he’s not just elusive with me, as others were having the same trouble locating him as well. I did; however, discover that someone had spotted him at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market from Iacopi Farms in Half Moon Bay. Bingo! Just as I was beginning to lose hope, suddenly my spirits started to lift.

On Saturday I dressed in my finest Farmer’s Market garb (thank god he prefers the athletic look because I was not about to hike up SF hills in heels) and trucked my booty to the Ferry Building.

Wahoo! FINALLY! I found him!

After I returned home, I got busy in the kitchen with Mr. Gigante and created this amazeball dish!

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Gigante Bean Salad

  • 1 pound dry gigante beans
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 green onions

Rinse your beans and soak them in water for 8 hours or overnight. Make sure there is 8 inches or more of water above your beans as they will soak up way more than you’d think.

Soaking Beans

After that, strain and rinse them. Also, remove any deformed or discolored beans like the one on the right. That happened to be the only sad bean I found in the bunch.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash, slice, and deseed your tomatoes and then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place them in the oven.

Let the tomatoes roast for 30 minutes and then pull them out and turn them over to roast on the other side. This is what mine looked like after 30 minutes. After turning them over, pop them back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

While they’re roasting, thinly slice the green onions and mix them with the beans.

After the tomatoes have roasted for at least an hour, you can pull them out of the oven. If you wish, you can roast them for several hours; the longer you roast the more intense their flavor will become. Here’s what mine looked like after an hour.

Chop the tomatoes and fold them into the beans and onions. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

I am totally over the moon for Mr. Gigande and this dish. I’m also massively happy that I made a hefty amount and will be able to enjoy it throughout the week!

10 Responses to Roasted Tomato Gigante Bean Salad

  1. Courtney says:

    LOVE IT!! Honeymooning in Greece, cant wait to eat them in their native home!

  2. atoosa says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I too have been obsesses with these creamy dreamy giant beans lately. I made the above roasted tomato salad recipe (with a few small modifications and fresh herbs from my own garden) and the family LOVED it. My sister requested I make it at least once a month. Sadly, the bulk section at Central Market sometimes runs out, and Whole Foods is even more unreliable. I may have to set up my own supply chain. How awesome would these be if we could get them fresh picked!? Here in TX we get black eyed peas and green peas fresh in the spring (at farmer’s markets) but I’ve never found anyone who grows them around here…..maybe they need cooler climes.

    • Christina says:

      You’re welcome, atoosa! I always love hearing from others who are equally passionate about these delicious beans. And it really is funny how hard it is to find them in the states — they’re so popular in Greece/Mediterranean that I’m guessing it has to do with the lack of people knowing they even exist here, which creates very little demand so few farmers would grow them.

  3. Rachael says:

    I live in Los Angeles and finally had to mail order him like a Russian bride. Purcell Mountain Farms not only had Gigantes but hundreds of other heirloom beans and lentils. Y.U.M.

    • Christina says:

      Haha! They’re so hard to come by, resorting to internet orders can feel like that, hey? The farm that sells them in the Bay Area just opened a regular store in the city (in the Ferry Building) so I’m excited that I can now get them any day of the week. Woot! If you’re ever up here, let me know and I can direct you to these delicious beans 😉

  4. liz manes-ruhl says:

    Wow … we also found the Giganti Beans at the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market – back in
    2009 from Iacopi Farm ! Being Colorado farmers who just like to grow interesting heirloom dry beans, we thought we’d give these monsters a try. I know this is crazy, but we haven’t even tried them yet, because we planted most of the beans. But that wasn’t until last year (2013) ! And with great surprise, they germinated with gusto ! But they seem to be pressed just a bit with our rather short growing season … so not too many pods get to the fully mature, dry stage.
    So our seed bank hasn’t really expanded; even after planting again this year 😦 But I finally got around to seeking out ways of preparing these giants, and look what came up on my google search – yeah !
    Thanks so much for this fun blog and I sure look forward to giving your recipe a try !
    * I do have a question, though …. it doesn’t sound like you actually cook the beans. Truly ?
    How does one get away with merely soaking them for 8 hours and have them edible, let alone
    digestible ? Or do you have a magic touch ? 🙂
    At any rate, Christina … if you’re still out there and want to reply, it would be great to hear
    from you ! I don’t go blogging much – hope this finds you enjoying writing, traveling and finding
    beauty everywhere !
    take care ~ Liz

  5. Mark says:

    You left out the step where you cook the beans.

  6. Mark O'Brien says:

    haha. I love the beans and your writing style! 🙂

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