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.
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.