Mike and I aren’t vegetarian, but we try to eat vegetarian meals two or three nights a week for our health and for environmental reasons.
After countless meals of veggie soup, hummus, lentil stew, eggs every way you can imagine, falafel, grilled cheese (or if you’re Mike, lebaneh (yogurt cheese) with tea, olives, and za’atar), and tofurkey, you start to look for new ideas. (Side Note: If you have a favorite vegetarian meal, please feel free to share!)
We love trying dishes from different cultures. Fabada Asturiana is a bean stew from Asturia that's made with creamy fabada beans, which are similar to butter beans. Since Mike and I don’t eat pork, it’s ironic that this stew typically contains several different types of pork: always Spanish chorizo and morcilla (also known as black pudding or blood sausage), and sometimes prosciutto, bacon, salt pork, ham hocks, and/or longaniza (which is another type of Spanish sausage).
I wanted to recreate this dish in a vegetarian way such that the flavors of chorizo are echoed and complimented in the broth, which is why I used the particular herbs and spices that I did. I'm not calling this recipe an authentic Asturian Bean Stew, but for being vegetarian (vegan, actually), it does a pretty good job of mimicking the flavors found in the authentic dish.
I like to eat this stew along with garlicky braised kale and crusty bread. Mike likes to eat it topped with chopped onion and tomato and a healthy drizzle of olive oil, along with Arabic bread. Either way, it’s a definite winner.
- 1¾ cups (350 g) dried white beans or butter beans (I used Great Northern beans)
- 4 to 5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ tablespoons minced fresh thyme
- 4 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground saffron or a generous pinch of saffron threads
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Soak the beans overnight in cold water (1 part beans, 3 parts water).
- The next day, drain the beans and add them to a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pot with a lid. Add 4 cups vegetable stock to the beans along with the olive oil, onion, garlic, thyme, paprika, cumin, black pepper, saffron, cinnamon, and bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and let it gently simmer until the beans are tender, about 1½ to 2 hours, stirring every so often and adding up to 1 cup more stock if necessary to make sure the beans are always covered with liquid.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Serve.
Update (February 18, 2015): I made this dish again and perfected the recipe and snapped a few pictures, so I decided to update both the recipe and the photos in this post.