Recipe: Tunisian White Bean and Meatball Stew

Tunisian White Bean and Meatball Stew
Tunisian White Bean and Meatball StewEvan Sung

Serves 8

Tunisian Jews make a meatball, white bean, and spinach stew on Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, and other holidays, ladling it over couscous, writes Leah Koenig in ‘‘The Jewish Cookbook.’’ First simmer flanken or short ribs until they’re tender, then add meatballs made with a lot of spices, along with canned beans, fresh spinach, and a cup of fresh mint and cilantro. Serve with harissa. The stew is hearty but not heavy with lots of appealing flavors and textures.


1pound ground beef
1medium onion, grated
¼cup dried breadcrumbs
1tablespoon ground cumin
1teaspoon ground cinnamon
1teaspoon smoked paprika
½teaspoon ground coriander
½teaspoon ground turmeric
2teaspoons salt
½teaspoon ground pepper
2tablespoons olive oil

1. In a bowl, combine the beef, onion and its liquid, breadcrumbs, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, turmeric, salt, pepper, and eggs.


2. Use clean hands to work the mixture until it is smooth. With wet hands, shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. You should have about 30.

3. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add half the meatballs to the pan, making one layer. Cook for 2 minutes, or until they move easily. Turn and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from the pan and transfer to a large plate. Cook the remaining meatballs in the same way. Remove them all from the pan. Cool and refrigerate.


¼cup olive oil
pounds beef flanken or short ribs, cut into pieces along the bone
Salt and pepper, to taste
1large onion, chopped
8cloves garlic, chopped
5cups beef or chicken stock
1can (15 ounces) white beans, drained
5ounces fresh baby spinach
½cup chopped fresh mint
½cup chopped fresh cilantro
Harissa (for serving)

1. Wipe out the pan used to brown the meatballs. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flanken or short ribs with salt and pepper. Add them to the pan and cook, turning to brown all sides, for 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften.

2. Return the meat to the pan with any juices on the plate. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a skewer.


3. Add the meatballs and beans to the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

4. Stir in the spinach, mint, and cilantro. Cook 2 minutes, or just until the spinach is wilted. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Serve with harissa. Adapted from ‘‘The Jewish Cookbook’’