Ethiopian Ful

I was cleaning out my cupboards the other day and found one of the few souvenirs I brought back from Ethiopia last summer: berbere, a deep crimson spice mix that flavors a lot of Ethiopian foods. It’s a bit spicy and really flavorful, and I’ve been using it on everything. Berbere vinaigrette. Berbere cheese sauce over roasted broccoli and romanesco. Berbere yogurt dip. And this, Ethiopian ful, which is basically a stew made with dried fava beans that is eaten for breakfast.

Ethiopian Ful (3)

I regret never having tried ful while in Ethiopia – though I filled up on nearly everything else – so I’ve been wanting to make this at home. And the verdict is… yum! It’s so, so easy, too. I added a bunch of toppings that I had laying around, but they’re all pretty much optional. I saw ful served with eggs and crusty bread in Ethiopia, but the avocado, yogurt, feta, roasted tomatoes all added something nice as well. Next time I’m thinking an aleppo pepper oil to drizzle.

Ethiopian Ful

Ethiopian Ful

The berbere here is essential. You can buy a mix online or at a local spice shop, or you can try making your own at home.

1 cup dried fava beans

1 teaspoon clarified butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon berbere
salt to taste

to top: sliced avocado, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, plain yogurt, soft-boiled egg, squeeze of lime, cilantro, sliced green onions, sliced chile peppers, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice

Combine the dried fava beans with 3 cups of water and cook on a low simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

In a large pan, heat the clarified butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the berbere and cook another minute longer. Add the cooked fava beans and 3/4 cup water. Season with salt and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Break apart the beans a bit as they cook more.

To serve, top with any or all of the garnishes listed. Eat with a spoon or fork or as they do in Ethiopia – with bread as your utensil!

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Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

I know I have already posted two other chili recipes on here, but something with this cold weather has me making yet more chili. Different chili. This time I wanted to add some greens and lots of beans. I pureed the chili using a hand blender just before adding the (cooked) beans and greens because I wanted a really smooth texture rather than a really chunky chili. I also discovered that I like garnishing chili with fresh tomatoes like these little golden cherry tomatoes. They’re pretty, but they also add some summery freshness, which may not exactly be seasonal, but it is a nice contrast.

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I still had frozen borlotti beans from when I made a bunch last time, but you could use any variety of beans you prefer. Kidney beans would be more traditional, but I can see pinto beans also tasting great. I have been making huge batches of beans the slow way (soaking overnight and then boiling the next day) and freezing them so I always have some on hand when I want them. I’ve also seen these quick-cooking beans at the grocery store in the refrigerated section of vegetables. I think they have already been soaked – they only take 15 minutes to cook. If you can find those, they work well also.

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Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

2 yellow onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
4 serrano peppers, minced
1 pound ground turkey
2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, whole (if hand blending) or diced
2 heaping tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons chile paste*
4 cups water
1 teaspoon shaved dark chocolate
1.5 cups black beans, cooked
1.5 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1.5 cups borlotti (or other) beans, cooked
1 bunch turnip greens, stems removed and finely chopped/shredded

Sauté the onions, garlic, and serrano peppers in a large pot (like a dutch oven) in olive oil or butter over medium high heat. When they begin to soften, add the ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the turkey is browned.

Add the tomatoes, spices, chile paste, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste-test not and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the shaved dark chocolate and allow it to melt into the chili.

Here you have the option of hand blending the chili to smooth out the texture. If you prefer a chunky chili and used diced tomatoes, you can leave it as is.

Lastly, add the beans and shredded turnip greens. Allow beans to warm through and serve.

*I almost always have a container of chile paste in the fridge from other recipes. I take a package (or packages) of dried chiles – check the Mexican aisle – like guajillos. I dry toast them in a pan, then soak them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft. Use a blender to purée the chiles by adding in water a little at a time. You can add this to soups, chili, or even make it into a hot sauce by thinning it out and adding vinegar, a touch of honey, and salt. If it is too much of a fuss to make simply for this, you can omit it, though it certainly adds another element to the chili.

Persian New Year Soup (Ash-e Reshteh)

Make this, now. So, so good. For such a simple soup, I did not expect it to be so delicious, but I have literally eaten it all day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s that good.
Persian New Year Soup (1)

The caramelized onions as a garnish are not optional. Just put in the extra effort and make them – it’s worth it.

Persian New Year Soup

I used yogurt instead of sour cream, which several of the recipes on the internet call for. The traditional accompaniment is a type of whey, or so I have read. Since I made this, I have been scouring the internet for info on this Iranian dish. It is served on the Persian New Year, which happens to be March 21 (first day of spring), not January 1. Nonetheless, it’s also pretty perfect for a wintery Chicago New Year’s Day.

Persian New Year Soup (3)

It also seems that some people make a minty oil by sautéing dried mint in olive oil. Then they drizzle it on top. Next time, I tell you, next time. Probably tomorrow. Seriously, I’m obsessed.

Persian New Year Soup (Ash-e Reshteh)

adapted from several sources, notably the Boston Globe, Turmeric & Saffron, and 101 Cookbooks

1 onion, sliced
1-2 red or green chiles, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups cooked borlotti beans (or white beans)
~200 g dried egg noodles
2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
juice of two limes
salt and pepper

Garnishes
1 large onion, sliced and caramelized
plain yogurt
chopped walnuts

Start by making the caramelized onion. Heat some oil and/or butter in a pan and sauté the sliced onion over medium heat, stirring occasional until the onions are browned.

In a dutch oven or soup pot, sauté the other onion, chiles, and garlic in some olive oil until soft. Stir in the turmeric and cumin and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper at this point as well.

Add the stock (if using a low-sodium or homemade stock, check the seasoning after you add it). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Add in the beans until warmed through. Stir in the egg noodles and let the soup cook until they are soft – should only take a couple minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the spinach, cilantro, dil, and lime juice. Check one more time for proper seasoning. Top with garnishes and serve.

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Bacon

I don’t have many words tonight – there are many exciting things happening right now, but I’m not at liberty yet to share them on the internet. Soon, hopefully. I also have a ton of really tasty recipes to share – like my first ever loaf of bread! And a new soba noodle recipe. And more Vietnamese tastiness. In the meantime, enjoy this great recipe from the ever-reliable Heidi Swanson.

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I’ve seen many recipes for something similar, but not one has been as good as this. The secret is the creamy and crusty white beans. That, and in my particular case, really good bacon. I bought this great bacon from Whole Paycheck straight from their meat department – no plastic packaging, no nitrates or nitrites, and no preservatives. Just good ‘ol smoked pork belly with some bacon-y spices. I’m convinced that part of the reason these beans turned out so well was that the bacon was of such high quality.

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Creamy White Beans with Kale and Bacon
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1 large shallot, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems cut out and leaves cut into strips
salt and pepper

Saute the bacon over medium-high heat in a skillet, working in batches. When the bacon is nice and crispy, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate lined with paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.

Make sure the beans are very dry, then place them in the bacon fat in a single layer, again working in batches. Let them sit for a minute or two, until the bottom of each bean is golden and crispy, then stir them and flip and let sit for another minute. When both batches are finished, toss in the rest of the beans and bacon.

Add the rest of the ingredients – garlic, shallot, and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes longer to wilt the kale and cook the shallot and garlic. Remove from heat and serve immediately.