As comfort foods go, Fasoulia was another one my sisters & I were rewarded with as we grew up. It is a delightful stew consisting of (at least in the Palestinian tradition) of lamb, tomatoes, and green beans.
In fact, the word “fasoulia” in Arabic literally means “bean”.
Fasoulia is a dish that is found in several versions throughout the Middle East, Turkey, North & Sub-Saharan Africa, and southern Europe. There are versions that use white beans (Syria & Lebanon), red beans (Lebanon), with carrots (Ethiopia), and with olives and greens (Greece).
The version I’m making is the one we grew up with (and the one I learned from my mom – who makes the best Fasoulia I’ve ever had, by the way). It’s in the Palestinian style, with lots of tomatoes.
A few notes:
1. You can make this dish vegetarian/vegan by simply omitting the meat and using vegetable broth.
2. This dish is always served over rice. I like to serve over saffron rice (because that was the way my sisters & I grew up eating it). However, if you want to use plain white rice, or even brown rice (especially if you’re making the vegetarian version), go for it.
3. If you don’t like or can’t find lamb, you can use beef. Use chuck. It’s meant for stewing and braising.
4. Use regular, fresh green beans for this dish. Don’t use frozen or haricot vert (French green beans). They won’t hold up to the cooking time.
5. This is generally served with browned pine nuts sprinkled over the top as garnish. However, if you don’t want to go to the expense of or can’t find pine nuts, browned slivered almonds are an excellent substitute.
1 med. onion, finely chopped
2 lbs. lamb, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
2 lbs. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil or clarified butter
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes (try to buy without basil; if you do get basil, pick out the leaves)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 c. beef or chicken broth
1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook, in batches if needed, until it is browned.
2. Add the onions to the saucepan and cook until they are softened, about 5 – 7 minutes.
3. Add the beans and cook another 3 – 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
4. Add the tomatoes, spices, and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. Taste for seasoning.
5. Serve with rice with a few browned pine nuts or slivered almonds on top.