Gigantes Butter Beans Recipe

Lima beans shelled

This gigantes butter beans recipe is a traditional Mediterranean way of preparing legumes; little wonder these people are so much more healthy.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 18th December, 2018.

By Bernard Preston

It's the name of a traditional Greek dried bean recipe, meaning giants, of course. Limas, when dried are known as Butter Beans. They're big. If you have grown them in the garden, then I wouldn't use them for this gem; fresh, lima beans have a lovely flavour all of their own. Buy the canned ones for this dish.

It's no coincidence the Mediterranean people are more healthy. They have less cancer, less arthritis and live longer. That's because they don't get all their protein from red meat and dairy products. They eat plenty of legumes instead of red meat, red meat, red meat... and fish too. They've traded sunflower oil for olive oil, and eat plenty of vegetables like eggplant, aubergine. And perhaps that midday power nap!

Butter beans are rich in phytosterols; plant fats that have a structure not dissimilar to cholesterol. They block the absorption of toxic low density lipoproteins.

They are described in the literature as functional foods; those that are recognised as having health promoting and disease preventing properties.

Along with tomatoes, foods containing large amounts of phytosterols are particularly beneficial in the prevention of prostate conditions.

Prostate cancer is the leading killer of men; make sure that your family has tomatoes and legumes regularly on the menu.

Gigantes Butter Beans Recipe

  1. 1 pound of dried butter beans
  2. 4 large very ripe tomatoes
  3. 2 large or 3 smaller onions
  4. 1 TBSP of tomato paste
  5. As much fresh garlic as you like. Perhaps six cloves.
  6. A couple slithers of hot chili but that's my variant. Beans can be a little dull!
  7. Oregano, parsley and thyme to taste, be generous.
  8. Olive oil.

How to cook butter beans

  • Soak your dried butter beans for eight hours plus. Overnight.
  • Rinse them several times in a colander with large holes to get any junk out; and phytates too, so-called anti-nutrients.
  • In a large, heavy-bottomed pot cover the butter beans with boiling water, and simmer for about half an hour. Don't let them get too soft 'cause you're going to cook them more.
  • Drain, and rinse again several times.
  • Meanwhile, in another pot, gently fry the onions, chili and herbs in a good dollop of butter. If your cholesterol is in order, otherwise in olive oil.
  • Add the tomatoes, garlic and gently cook for about half an hour. Add a little water if necessary. Don't let them burn!
  • Add the tomato paste. Stir.
  • Add the finely chopped parsley and then the cooked beans.
  • Bring gently to the boil and simmer for about ten minutes. Add coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Enjoy your GIGANTES BUTTER BEANS RECIPE on a bed of pasta or mashed potato.
  • Or just as a side dish for a lovely Greek salad.

Likewise, foods rich in phytosterols are very important for all women. Along with the lignans in flaxseed and 100% wholemeal bread, if you can get it, they block the sites in the breast tissue where circulating hormones are absorbed.

Getting back to real food, unprocessed and without added chemicals is the only way to promote health and reduce the dread disease that lurks at every corner today.

It's also the only way to a life enjoyed largely without medication; let your food be your medicine was the advice of the father of Medicine, Hippocrates. I'll add a heartfelt Amen to that. 

Glycemic response to legumes

The beauty of legumes in general, and limas in particular, is their healthy glycemic index. For butter beans it's 31; below 55 is considered low GI. 

Do you know about resistant starch? If you are obese you will naturally be concerned about the pasta or mashed potato. Learning the meaning of retrogradation will revolutionise your eating plan.

That means that the beans are turned very slowly into blood sugar, and you don't get a surge of insulin; that's the fat storage hormone buries any sudden upturn in the glucose that your high GI foods produce in adipose tissue.

Rather, legumes give you a prolonged response; a sense of having eaten sufficiently, not followed by a famished feeling about an hour later; satiety. You won't feel the need to snack.

Growing limas

Butter beans are of course just dried lima beans, known for their high protein and rich source of anti-oxidants. And fibre, good for your colon.

Lima are almost impossible to buy fresh. You have to make a small sunny spot in the garden where you can build a small teepee of canes for growing lima beans; rich in anti oxidants they also help reduce the inflammation in the inner lining of blood vessels (the "intima") that causes varicose veins in legs, a very painful and serious condition that is best treatment with a paste made from raw honey and herbs, especially a phytosterol called beta-sitosterol. Jup, the same "functional food" that helps enlarged prostates and a heap of other conditions. It's particularly rich in avocado pears. AVOCADO BENEFITS are legion.

Nitrogen Fixation

All plants need nitrogen. In agriculture it is supplied in the main in mono-culture crops with fertilizer.

However, bacteria in the roots of legumes like butter beans have the capacity to fix nitrogen from the air, providing the element not only for themselves but also for the next crop; it's a big part of getting your garden soil ready for planting.

This is vital for us. That nitrogen is utilized by legumes to build the amino acids that we need for our bodies.


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Stones in my Clog

Holland is a country of many nationalities. People from all over the world live and work in cities like The Hague and Rotterdam, home to the International Court and the largest port in Europe for example.

It was in Dordrecht, a small, very old Dutch city that I met a man whom I affectionately called Zorba. He came from the Greek Islands, and consulted me with a fearful brachial neuralgia (pain from the neck, running down the arm) after an illegal football tackle.

His parents still lived on a Greek island, and owned an olive orchard. Zorba loved to bring me Greek tidbits. And so it was that I discovered his GIGANTES BUTTER BEANS RECIPE ...

Stones in my Clog, my third book of Chiropractic anecdotes is set in the polders of Holland. Here an extract of one chapter, translated into Dutch. The book of course is in English, available at My store for just $2.99.

Er kon geen vergissing ontstaan over mijnheer van Onzelen's manier van lopen. Zelfs de vriend die ik in de bus heb ontmoet, herkende het. We waren op weg naar huis. Hij heet Hendrik - hij is de mannelijke uitvoering van een werkster, hij poetst - maakt huizen schoon. We zagen beiden hoe mijnheer van Onzelen de bus binnenstrompelde. Ik stootte Hendrik aan: "Waarom denk je dat hij zo loopt?" fluisterde ik, terwijl het onderwerp van ons staren, buiten gehoorsafstand, zijn maandabonnement aan de buschauffeur liet zien.

Stones in my Clog

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