Weeknight Harissa White Bean Stew with Greens & Toasted Cheese Croutons


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First off, I can’t take credit for the genius combinations and overall idea of this dish. It’s from Alison Roman at @NYTcooking. However, after cooking it a few times, I do think there are some adjustments that help make this pop and stand out in flavor, and I wanted to document them. It might sound selfish, but one of the reasons I continue this blog is to remember dishes I’ve made and enjoyed so when I need inspiration or ideas, I can look at what I previously did. Taking notes and adjustments on previous recipes is key! The number of times I’ve forgotten what I changed on an original recipe is far too many, and it’ so frustrating when I return to that dish and then make the same error or fail to recall what I changed. So in the spirit of that, here’s this beautifully humble and quick recipe that highlights beans and comes together in about 20 minutes.

**The original recipes says you can use either tomato or harissa, but I found that 1) harissa is SUPER necessary for flavor. Mina- a favorite brand of mine- has mild harissa if you don’t like the traditional spicy type (like me) 2) adding both gave both flavor and more depth

Weeknight Harissa White Bean Stew with Greens
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Serves 4-5

  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, enough to generously coat bottom of pan

  • 1 onion, sliced – I’ve used both red and yellow (and the original recipe suggests either)- yellow is more traditional and I prefer it, but red brings in a new flavor/acidity if you want more oomph

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoons mild harissa*

  • 3 15-oz cans great northern beans or other white bean of your choice (I choose these because they are a bit larger and also higher in protein/fiber compared to some other ones), drained

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth (low sodium)

  • 3 handfuls of spinach, baby swiss chard, or green of your choice (see bottom part of directions for my suggestions on this)

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • fresh herbs- cilantro or basil, for topping

  • a few slices of a whole grain baguette (or something similar)

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan/gruyere

Heat a a medium soup pot or braiser over low to medium heat- I used my 3 1/2 quart braiser for this and it worked perfectly (thank you to my brother and sister-in-law for that amazing gift!!). Add in oil and onion. Saute until onion is translucent and just beginning to brown. Add in garlic and continue to saute for a few more minutes until the onions are more brown, but definitely not close to burnt! Add in tomato paste and harissa and stir to thoroughly coat onions.

Add in beans and crush them into the onions and paste- this can be a haphazard and somewhat SLOPPY process, but the original recipe discuses how this helps release some of the starch of the bean to help thicken the broth later. I also found that having some of them crushed adding more variation in texture. Saute for an additional minute while crushing with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add in sea salt and season to taste.

Add in stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer until liquid has begun to thicken a bit, about 25 minutes. At about 20-ish minutes, add in spinach- the time at which you add the greens depends a bit on how hearty the green is- I personally liked using swiss chard or spinach (not baby spinach- regular spinach is a bit bigger) because it was a nice balance of the green not completely collapsing and wilting into the stew (like baby spinach), but also not risk them not being tender or taking too long to cook down (like kale). Right before serving, add lemon and check for seasoning.

I personally LOVED serving this with a whole grain baguette that had a sprinkling of gruyere and parmesan cheese on top. Broil the baguette with the cheese in the oven for about 3 minutes, until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown. Serve on top of the stew- it soaks up the liquid from the stew beautifully.

Join the Conversation

  1. Oh my goodness, I had no idea there is such a thing as mild harissa! I need to check that out. And I totally agree, it is so frustrating when you can’t remember how you tweaked a recipe. I write everything down these days, just to make sure I can re-create it! Thanks for sharing this – the flavour combo does sound incredible!

    1. Katerina- I didn’t realize either until I was shopping! I highly recommend it. Let me now how it goes!

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