Palestinian Fasoulia

A plate of Palestinian fasoulia, servedwith vermicelli rice.

Well, I guess I’m back in blog mode. It’s been what?, four days since my last post, and I’ve already created and cooked a whole new recipe for you.

You’ll recall a few posts back, when I wrote about fasoulia khadra from Jordan, that I wondered whether my recipe for Palestine would really wind up any different. I shouldn’t have worried. Working from recipes that claimed to be Palestinian (coming from English language blogs based in America or Europe I sometimes take those claims of authenticity with a grain of salt), I wound up with a very different set of spices. Where that one used cumin and coriander, there wasn’t a sign of either in any of the recipes I looked at. Allspice, cinnamon and bharat (Arab 7 spice blend) are the flavors of the day.

Even the cooking method changed slightly. In the previous green bean based iterations of fasoulia we’ve explored, the beans and tomato are added at the same time. Yet multiple Palestinian recipes warned that “the acid in the tomatoes will keep the beans from softening”, which is true of dry beans, but false for green beans (proven by the other two recipes I just mentioned). However, I did follow the instructions from those recipes to sauté the green beans until they begin to soften before adding the tomato. The cool part about that, since I sautéed them with the onion, is that it gave the onion a chance to really caramelize, adding another flavor dimension to the sauce.

Like many other stews, this one really tastes better on the second day, once all the flavors have a chance to really meld and soak into the meat and beans.

I finally actually made vermicelli rice to go with this dish. It is a common variation on plain rice often served throughout the Middle East, and has been mentioned with at least a few of the recipes I’ve looked at for most of the other fasoulias I’ve posted about, but hadn’t been frequent enough for me to actually take the time to do it when I could just put some rice in my rice cooker. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what the big deal is. All the instructions I’ve seen have you toast the vermicelli in oil or butter, then add the rice and water. But rice takes longer to cook than vermicelli, so you wind up with overcooked pasta and the whole thing winds up slightly mushy. In the future I think I would use orzo, like I did for the rice I served with my kuru fasulye, which turned out delicious.

Palestinian Fasoulia

Serves: 4
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 2:00
Total: 2:15

20 oz. beef stew meat
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoons allspice
¼ teaspoon black pepper 
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
½ Tablespoon olive oil
8 cups beef broth

1 ¼ lbs. green beans

½ Tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced

3 large tomatoes, pureed
1 14 oz. can tomato puree
7 ½ Tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 ½ teaspoons bharat (seven spice)

2 Tablespoons butter
4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 pinch nutmeg
1 lb. lamb stew meat, in place of beef
18 oz. tomato passata, in place of fresh tomatoes. 
juice of 2-3 lemons
½ bunch parsley, minced, for garnish

Season the beef with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon allspice, black pepper, and cinnamon. Heat ½ Tablespoon olive oil in a large pot and sear the meat on all sides. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile trim the ends from your green beans and snap into 1-2 inch pieces. Set aside. 

Once the meat has cooked for about an hour, heat ½ Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté the onion until golden. Add the green beans and sauté for about 15 minutes, until the beans begin to soften. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to the pan with the beans, reserving the broth. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon allspice,s bharat, and about 2 cups of the beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer for about 45 minutes until the beans are very soft, and the meat is tender. 

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, then stir into the stew. Check for seasoning and serve over vermicelli rice. 

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