Happy New Year!
Today we’re eating fasoulia wa roz, literally “beans with rice”. I based this version of the fasoulia recipe on Lebanese recipes. Apparently Lebanon is the country this dish is most associated with by people outside the middle east (or at least by Google’s search algorithms); various Lebanese fasoulia recipes pop up in the results for just about every other country I’ve looked for, so it was pretty easy to find my source material this time.
With all the winter weather we’ve been having, this was the perfect dish to make this week. Warm, filling and delicious, the perfect bean stew for a cold snowy evening.
As I predicted back when I started exploring different fasoulias, the differences between different countries are pretty minor, basically coming down to which spices are used. This one features cinnamon and coriander. Next time, we’ll be moving from the East end of the Mediterranean to North Africa, so I’m hoping to see a little more variation in the spices. I don’t foresee much difference in the basic tomato-beans-meat formula though.
This version turned out soupier than my previous versions, which I think is probably more in line with how it is generally made all over the middle east. Pictures on other recipes usually show a pretty soupy dish, but, since this is one of those recipes that every housewife makes a little different based on what her family likes, I’m sure that there are plenty of people who like it thicker too. Feel free to adjust any of my recipes to suit your taste.
Among all those Lebanese fasoulia recipes that keep popping up when I’m looking for other countries, vegetarian versions are fairly common. (Ok, so maybe it’s the same one over and over again; I haven’t paid attention since I skip over recipes that aren’t labeled with the country I’m looking for.) You can certainly skip the meat and make a vegetarian version of this (or any of my fasoulia recipes) if you like. Maybe add some extra onion, or some other vegetables to bulk it up a little.
While I chose to serve this with plain rice this time, it is frequently served with “vermicelli rice”, a simple pilaf made with a handful of toasted noodles cooked along with the rice. I’ve included the vermicelli in the list of optional ingredients, and included instructions for cooking it. This same pilaf has been mentioned in several of the other countries I’ve looked at so far, but for whatever reason it was actually included in the ingredients on a number of my source recipes this time, so it made it into my final recipe, hence including rice in the name this time.
I used canned beans this time, although I’m not sure it saved much cooking time, since the meat took nearly 2 hours to really get tender. Of course, it did allow me to come home from the grocery store and immediately start cooking, instead of soaking beans over night, so on that front it was a huge time saver.
Fasoulia wa Roz
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 2-3 hours
4 15 oz. cans cannellini beans
18 oz. dry white beans
1 lb beef stew meat
Salt and pepper to taste
7 cups water
1 large bay leaf
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ bunches cilantro
2 ¾ Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium brown onions, diced
3 ½ oz. tomato paste
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ½ cups tomato sauce
2 ¼ cup white rice
4 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons Lebanese 7 spice
¾ cup vermicelli noodles (with the rice)
1 1/3 teaspoon salt (with the rice)
1 teaspoon allspice
1 ¾ lb diced lamb (in place of beef)
1 2/3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons parsley, minced (for garnish)
If using dry beans, pick through them and remove any bad beans or foreign objects. Cover with water and soak over night. If using canned beans, simply drain and rinse them thoroughly before adding to the pot.
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pot and brown the meat for a minute or two on each side. Add 7 cups of water and the bay leaf and bring to a boil, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle and grind to a paste. Finely chop the cilantro stems and coarsely chop the leaves. Put the leaves in the refrigerator for later.
Heat 2 ¾ Tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic paste and cilantro stems and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and spices and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and mix well.
Lift the meat out of the water and add to the tomato mixture. Drain the beans and add them to the meat broth. Allow both pans to simmer for about 15 minutes before combining them into one pot. Continue to simmer for 1 to 2 hours, uncovered, until the beans and meat are tender and sauce reaches desired consistency. (If you prefer a soupy consistency you can add additional water if needed)
While the beans are cooking, rinse your rice until the water runs clear. Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice, stir once, and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, but do not remove the lid for 15 minutes before opening. Give it a fluff with a fork before serving. (If using the optional vermicelli, heat a little oil in a pot and sauté the vermicelli until it is golden brown; watch carefully as it will go from golden brown to burnt very quickly. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil. Add 4 ½ cups of hot water and bring to a boil. Proceed as above.)
Once the beans and meat are cooked, stir in the lemon juice and cilantro leaves and adjust seasoning. Serve over rice.