When the weather changes, I start to really crave a big pot of beans. It’s really the most comforting thing I can think of (as long as there’s a bit of crusty bread).
Pot of beans or stew?
In this recipe, I’m toeing the line on whether or not this is just a pot of beans or a simple fall bean stew. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because it’s delicious either way! If you wanted to bulk this up a bit more, you could add vegetables (sweet potato, squash) and/or greens (kale, chard).
White Beans + alternatives
Originally I wanted to use larger white beans to really make the beans known but what I realized it’s much nicer with the smaller beans. You could use any of the different white beans- it’s really up to you.
Also, if you wanted to speed this up, you could use canned beans. Simply drain the beans and add to a pot with enough broth to cover then heat the beans as the recipe states.
The Chili Paste
When it comes to the chili paste, I always have a jar of sambal oelek and garlic-chili paste on hand. As I mention in the notes section of the recipe, you can use whatever your favorite chili paste is- just know the heat level so you don’t make this meal too spicy! A bit of harissa paste could work.
Also, in a pinch, you could use crushed red pepper. Toast it in the ghee right before you add the spices and tomato paste. Start with 1 teaspoon and go from there. If you don’t like spice at all, swap the chili paste for a couple teaspoons smoked paprika.
What to serve it with
One of the reasons I like keeping this straight forward is it leaves room for some side dishes. You could serve up stew with a side of roasted sweet potatoes, twice-baked squash, or some simple garlicky greens.
1 cup dried great northern beans
4 to 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Chili Paste Mix
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoon ghee
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon to 4 teaspoons chili paste (see note)
2 to 3 cups baby arugula
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of flaky salt
Feta, for serving
Bread, for serving
- To start, rinse the dried white beans, place in a pot, and cover with water. Let soak overnight. Alternatively, combine the dried beans with water, bring to a boil for one minute, cover, and turn off the heat. Let quick soak for one hour.
- After soaking, drain and return to the pot. Add 4 cups of the broth and the four garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender; 40 to 50 minutes. If the broth level no longer covers the beans, add more as needed.
- While the beans cook, heat the cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet. Shake the pan often until the spices are fragrant; just a minute or two. Grind the spices and set aside. Alternatively, use equal amounts of ground spices.
- Return the small pan to medium heat and add the ghee followed by the spices, tomato pasta, and chili paste (see note). Heat and whisk until the mixture is hot.
- When the beans are tender and the broth level should be barely covering the beans. Stir in chili paste mixture and heat for a few minutes longer. Taste and adjust salt/chili paste levels as desired.
- In a small bowl, toss together the arugula with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Divide the beans into 4 bowls and top with the arugula. Sprinkle with a bit of feta and serve with the bread.
When it comes to the chili paste, I tend to use a garlic-chili paste or sambal oelek. When I use either of these, I use up to the 4 teaspoons of chili paste. Use whichever chili paste you like, just know the heat level of each and what you’d like to end up with as a heat level. You can always add more chili paste to the overall bean dish.