How to Steam Clams, Plain or with Greek Gigantes Beans

Gigantes, giant white beans, are a Greek specialty bean. I recently explained that gigantes are related to scarlet runner beans and are a PGI product of Greece. In the European Union, a PGI designation identifies foods grown in unique regions that have special qualities and characteristics. I also gave my favorite recipe for cooking traditional-style Greek Gigantes Plaki. Today, I have a gigantes recipe from San Francisco.

San Francisco Ferry Building. Photograph from Wikipedia by JaGa

San Francisco Ferry Building. Photograph from Wikipedia by JaGa

Several years ago, we took a quick trip to San Francisco where, unsurprisingly, the weather was cloudy and the food delicious. One Saturday we went to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, ogled vegetables and local cheeses, and ate at Hog Island Oyster Company. Though our table was outside on the chilly plaza, we warmed ourselves with champagne and garlicky Clams with Gigantes and Buttery Wine Broth. We walked away happy.

I enthused about this recipe to a friend, talking about how easy it would be to make at home. She had never cooked clams, even though she loved them, because they seemed too complicated. This is the opposite of reality. For anyone who’s never made clams at home, they make a fast, easy, never-fail, and reliably delicious dinner.

Here’s all it takes to steam clams: wash off clam shells and discard any that don’t close, throw clams in big pot with a little wine, butter, garlic, and freshly ground black pepper, cover pot, turn up heat, and cook for a few minutes until clams open. Discard any that don’t open. That’s it: good food fast. When I worked in an office, I made steamed clams because they were quick. Now I make them because they taste good.

Making clams with beans is almost as easy, especially when made with canned cannellini beans. Even though it takes more work, if you can find gigantes, they go particularly well with garlicky clam broth. It’s worth the time to seek them out.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:





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14 Responses to How to Steam Clams, Plain or with Greek Gigantes Beans

  1. Mediterranean kiwi says:

    nz cockles – amazing that they ship them out to the us; we can get nz mussels and other seafood from there, but not cockles

    i would never have thought of combining gigantes and clams – i love the butter sauce idea, esp. with all that garlic and onion…

  2. Quite an interesting combo Laurie…and to be honest I've never eaten clams before. Are they similar to mussels? As for San Francisco, it's the best food city in the world. I love the markets at the Ferry building.

  3. Good to see you back Laurie and feeding us well again! I wish I get get my hand on some cockles here (love the sweetness of them). Gigantes? A greek staple…good read!

  4. Bellini Valli says:

    I was just in San Francisco a few weeks ago and will be there again in November. I have to try their seafood this time around.

  5. I personally cannot get enough of clams (all shellfish really, but especially clams). This dish sounds so flavorful and you're right about the gigantes just absorbing all that clam juice and flavor–delicious!

  6. My mom always brings back dry gigantes from Greece. She's not back yet so I anticipate a lot of Greek goods arriving in her suitcase. Too bad she can't also bring back some fresh clams in her suitcase. I will search for some clams at the fishmongers one day and try steaming them with wine and garlic. Sounds delicious!

  7. I missed your wonderful posts, good to see you back. And some giant beans and clams look so tasty!

  8. So glad that I stumbled upon your blog. I live an hour away from San Francisco. The best seafood is on the wharf. hmmm

  9. Glad I'm not the only clam lover!

    Peter G, mussels are similar to clams although their texture and flavor is somewhat different, depending on the type of clam. A food frontier for you to cross! As for the food in SF, I agree with you completely.

    Bijoux, your mom is a good woman! (But you knew that.) I kept meaning to go on a hunt for her, but time just got away from us. Maybe next year!

  10. easy recipes says:

    Can I use in this recipe regular oil and not butter or extra virgin olive oil?

  11. Hi, easy recipes! The butter/olive oil is in the recipe primarily to add flavor. For me that means extra virgin olive oil if I'm going for oil – but it's all a matter of personal taste. If the oil you want to use has good flavor, by all means use it in the recipe. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Hi Laurie,
    Clams and beans are an inspired combination. I’ve been using a Spanish recipe that has saffron in it that we love, but definitely will try your recipe. It sounds so good. This post did lead me to make the white beans baked in tomato sauce and my husband loved it. I noticed your comment about not wasting tomato paste. I’ve found that tomato paste freezes perfectly well. I put a tablespoon each into the wells in an ice cube tray, freeze it, pop them out and store them in a ziplock bag. Simplicity itself.

    • Laurie Constantino says:

      Hi Rita,
      So glad you liked the Gigantes Plaki! It’s one of my favorites. Thank you for the excellent suggestion about tomato paste! Having quick tablespoons of tomato paste available would come in very handy.
      Thanks for visiting!

  13. Pingback: How to Steam Clams, Plain or with Greek Gigantes Beans | Laurie … » Greek Recipes

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