The Greek Beanery
Literally translated, gigantes means “giant” and it’s probably the largest white bean you’ll ever see. Really large lima beans can be substituted but it’s worth it to seek out gigantes for the ultimate texture and flavor of the dish you’re preparing.
Gigantes Plaki (γίγαντες πλακί, pronounced YEE-yahn-dehs plah-KEE): These beans are baked in a thick, herbed tomato sauce and are buttery-tender to the bite.
Koukia are fava beans (or broad beans) that are used dried as well as fresh.
Anginares me Koukia (αγκινάρες με κουκιά, pronounced ah-ghee-NAH-rehs meh koo-KYAH): An artichoke and fava-bean (dried or fresh) dish that’s flavored with fresh dill and lemon. Young bean pods are tender so they can be used whole in this dish. When older, the beans are shelled and the inedible pods are discarded.
Fasolia are small to medium dried white beans similar to cannellini or Great Northern beans. When shopping at Greek markets, you’ll find them in two or three sizes. The one you choose is up to you. Just keep in mind that the larger the bean, the slightly longer the cooking time.
Fasolada (φασολάδα, pronounced fah-soh-LAH-thah): A hearty white-bean soup made with tomato, carrots, and celery. Serve with crusty bread.
Fakes are lentils. In Greece the lentils are very small and greenish-brown in color, and are available in the United States at Greek/Mediterranean markets. Why go of out of your way for these little lentils? Well, they cook faster than the common larger lentils, but more importantly, they’re extra tender and flavorful.
Fakes Soupa (φακές σούπα, pronounced fah-KEHS SOO-pah): This is lentil soup that can be made with carrots and/or a variety of vegetables, with or without olive oil (depending on whether or not you’re fasting), and always a zesty splash of vinegar.
Fava is yellow split peas, not to be confused with fava beans. The freshest, most flavorful fava can be found at Greek/Mediterranean markets. Supermarkets also carry them but a side-by-side taste test will show you that they’re not nearly as good as the Greek ones.
Fava (φάβα, pronounced FAH-vah): This is the classic bright yellow purée that was named after its main ingredient, fava. For Greeks, fava (split peas) and fava (puree) go hand in hand as one was born to create the other. Fava is easy to prepare and, once plated, is topped with red onion and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. It can be served as a meze with pita wedges, or as a main dish.
Revithia are chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) that are used in mezedes, soups, salads, stews, veggie side dishes, and main dishes.
Revithosalata (ρεβιθοσαλάτα, pronounced reh-vee-thoh-sah-LAH-tah): A chickpea salad made with red onion, chopped tomato, and herbs, and finished with a Greek lemon-and-olive oil dressing, plus an optional crumble of feta cheese when not fasting.
Houmous me Tahini (χούμους με ταχίνι, pronounced HOO-moos meh tah-HEE-nee): This is hummus made with tahini (roasted sesame seed paste) and is simple to make using a food processor. Homemade is much healthier than store-bought, with less fat and abundant chickpea flavor. Serve this dip/spread as a meze or side dish with pita wedges.
Fasolia Mavromatika (φασόλια μαυρομάτικα)
(pronounced fah-SOH-lee-ah mahv-roh-MAH-tee-kah)
Fasolia mavromatika are black-eyed peas. Considered a New Year’s Day good luck charm in the south, they’ll make you feel like you hit the jackpot when you savor them in Greek-style soups or stews.
Fasolia Mavromatika me Horta ke Maratho (φασόλια μαυρομάτικα με χόρτα και μάραθο, pronounced fah-SOH-lee-ah mahv-roh-MAH-tee-kah meh HOHR-tah keh MAH-rah-thoh): Black eyed pea soup gets a flavor boost from leafy greens and fresh fennel. Serve with warm crusty bread.
Fasolia Mavromatika me Loukaniko (φασόλια μαυρομάτικα με λουκάνικο, pronounced fah-SOH-lee-ah mahv-roh-MAH-tee-kah meh loo-KAH-nee-koh): When not fasting, this black-eyed pea soup with country sausage and greens is a delicious, hearty meal. It’s slow cooked to allow all the flavors to meld together and to make the beans creamy tender.
Got Greek beans?
The following in-store and online options will have you saying “YES”!
If you’re in the New York City area you can find these Greek legumes (and more) at the following markets (if you're out of the area, you can call them and ask them if they can ship to you.):
25-56 31st Street
Astoria, NY, 11102
Mediterranean Foods (2 locations)
22-78 35th Street
Astoria, NY 11105
30-12 34th Street
Astoria, NY 11103
If you don’t live near these markets but have a Greek Orthodox Church nearby, chances are they know of a Greek/Mediterranean shop in the area.
Online shopping is the next best thing (or maybe the first). Here’s where you can find Greek legumes, as well as other foods and items:
Greek International Food Market
I hope you enjoyed Legume Kouzina. These beans will be featured in recipes in our upcoming cookbook! Stay tuned for more uniquely Greek and Karpathian foods that you can add to your kouzina pantry.
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Kali orexi! Good appetite!
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