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Navy Bean and Escarole Stew with Feta and Olives

Navy Bean and Escarole Stew with Feta and Olives

There’s no stock in this wintry vegetarian stew recipe—it relies on the starchy bean cooking liquid for its flavor (which is a polite way of saying sorry, but you can’t use canned beans here and get the same results).


  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 cups dried navy beans, soaked overnight, drained
  • 8 ounces feta, preferably in brine, brine reserved, cheese crumbled
  • 4 large sprigs basil, plus leaves for serving
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted, torn
  • 1 head of escarole, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 1-inch-thick slices country-style bread

Recipe Preparation

  • Slice 1 garlic clove in half crosswise and set aside; smash remaining garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife.

  • Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Cook smashed garlic, stirring often, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add onion and fennel and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and fennel and onion are browned around the edges, 8–10 minutes. Add lemon zest, rosemary, and ¾ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until rosemary is very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, beans, feta brine (if using; anywhere between ½–1 cup is fine), a couple generous pinches of salt, and 8 cups water and bring to a simmer. Partially cover pot, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer stew until beans are creamy and tender all the way through, 60–70 minutes.

  • Add basil sprigs and olives to stew, then add escarole in batches, letting wilt slightly before adding more; simmer just until escarole is tender, about 3 minutes. (If stew is too thick, add more water to reach desired consistency.) Stir in lemon juice; taste and season with more salt if needed. Pluck out bay leaves; partially cover pot and keep stew warm over low while you make the toast.

  • Heat broiler. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. oil total over both sides of bread and place on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil until bread is golden and toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Let cool slightly, then rub with the cut sides of reserved garlic clove.

  • To serve, slice toast in half and divide among shallow bowls; ladle stew over. Top with feta, basil leaves, and more red pepper flakes and drizzle with oil.

  • Do Ahead: Stew can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat covered over low.

,Photos by Michael Graydon Nikole Herriott

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 440 Fat (g) 20 Saturated Fat (g) 6 Cholesterol (mg) 25 Carbohydrates (g) 48 Dietary Fiber (g) 11 Total Sugars (g) 6 Protein (g) 19 Sodium (mg) 640Reviews SectionI made this but deviated drastically from the recipe (cause quarantine life made it so I couldn't get my hands on escarole or feta. Hoping things will be better in the fall and I can make it true to recipe then.)Instead, I took this recipe and mashed it up with Nine Herb Charm soup, an ancient Norse pagan springtime practice and recited the Nine Herb Charm while making. My nine herbs are a) fennel bulb, rosemary, fresh bay leaves, sage b) cilantro, spring onions, turnip greens, nettles, dandelion leaves, and turnip greens (when the stores are closed, the woods are open and free). Herbs in (a) were used in the first, simmering step, and herbs for part (b) were added at the end of the cooking process.Before eating, I recited the Nine Herbs Charm, stirring my hopes of healing for the world into the soup. Here is the Nine Herbs Charm, edited for coronavirus healing wishes and the nine herbs I used. *** indicates where I have edited the archived charm for my own purposes.I am not a grocery worker, janitor, nurse, doctor, virologist, counselor, delivery driver, or other essential worker. I am just a forager with a healing wish for the world.Remember, ***Sage***, what you made known,What you arranged at the Great proclamation.You were called Una, the oldest of herbs,you have power against three and against thirty,you have power against poison and against infection,you have power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.**I ask you for longevity and clarity of judgement.**And you, ***Dandelion***, mother of herbs,Open from the east, mighty inside.Over you chariots creaked, over you queens rode,over you brides cried out, over you bulls snorted.You withstood all of them, you dashed against them.May you likewise withstand poison and infectionand the loathsome foe roving through the land.**May you help our bodies fight for us.*****Green Onion*** is the name of this herb, it grew on a stone,it stands up against poison, it dashes against poisonNettle it is called, it attacks against poison,it drives out the hostile one, it casts out poison.This is the herb that fought against the serpent,it has power against poison, it has power against infection,it has power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons,though you are the lesser, until he is cured of both.**Green Onion, we ask for your Spring;****renewal and rejuvenation, now and continuing, renewal of spirit and perseverance.****Renewal and rejuvenation, later, when the infection has passed.****Nettle, please give to us your strength, fortitude.****Let us fight with force, yet tenderness and fortification of our fellows and strangers.**Remember, ***Rosemary,*** what you made known,what you accomplished at Alorford,that never a man should lose his life from infectionafter ***Rosemary*** was prepared for his food.**From Rosemary, we ask that our wisdom grow,****that our memory of this time builds our collective knowing.**This is the herb that is called ***Bay Leaf**.*A seal sent it across the sea-right,a vexation to poison, a help to others.It stands against pain, it dashes against poison,A worm came crawling, it killed nothing.For Woden took nine glory-twigs,he smote the the adder that it flew apart into nine parts.**We ask bay leaf to witness our collective tragedy,****and that we may have the strength so that in the end, we let our tragedy go.**There the ***Turnip Greens*** accomplished it against poisonthat she [the loathsome serpent] would never dwell in the house.**We ask of turnip greens to banish this poison,****and give to us solid, trustable foundations from which to stand and fight.*****Cilantro*** and *Fennell,* two of much might,They were created by the wise Lord,holy in heaven as He hung;He set and sent them to the seven worlds,to the wretched and the fortunate, as a help to all.It stands against pain, it fights against poison,it avails against 3 and against 30,against foe´s hand and against noble scheming,against enchantment of vile creatures.**With cilantro, we ask for that which was before****die in this time. We shall move only forward,****ridding ourselves of those structures with poor foundations.****And with fennel, we ask for air: air that we breathe,****air that sweeps the sickness away from us,****air the brings with it the dawn and the spring, newness.****Air for the communication of truth.**Now there nine herbs have power against nine evil spirits,against nine poisons and against nine infections:Against the red poison,against the foul poison,against the white poison,against the pale blue poison,against the yellow poison,against the green poison,against the black poison,against the blue poison,against the brown poison,against the crimson poison,against worm-blister,against water-blister,against thorn-blister,against thistle-blister,against ice-blister,against poison-blister,If any poison comes flying from the east, or any from the north,[or any from the south,]or any from the west among the people.Herbs stood over diseases of every kind.I alone know a running stream, and the nine adders beware of it.May all the weeds spring up from their roots, the seas slip apart,all salt water, when I blow this poison from you.I never would have thought to put Olives in bean stew, absolutely fantastic and a crowd pleaser. I've made this many times now and it is my favorite way to cook beans but 60 minutes has never been sufficient to cook them all the way through. Once it took almost two hours but I must have done a quick soak of my beans the morning of cooking.AnonymousVancouver Canada03/31/20Great briny goodness, simple yet complex. I cooked the beans separately in a stovetop pressure cooker with the bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, and salt. Dry navy beans took 25 minutes at high with a quick release. While the beans were cooking I made the soup base and added the cooked beans with liquid before the escarole step.Made this last night and it was amazing! I soaked the beans overnight, drained them, and then put them in the instant pot with 6 cups of water on high for 5 minutes at the start of my prep. After adding the rosemary, I added two cups of water to the pot to start the broth while the beans finished up. I did a quick release on the instant pot, added the beans and their liquid to the pot on the stove, and cooked for an additional ten minutes. It cut the cooking time in half and still came out wonderfully!kristanryannew york01/07/20I made this stew for the first time and it was amazing. I wanted something to pair with socca bread and this surely was the right dish. I can't wait to make it again. By the way, it did take two+ hours for the beans to cook even after soaking them all [email protected] Mirage, CA11/26/19This is another test commentAnonymousTuscaloosa, Alabama10/17/19Tyler ChadwickTuscaloosa, Alabama10/17/19I would love to make this, but based on previous experience, 60 minutes isn't enough time to cook beans, even if they're soaked. I'm considering using an Instant Pot because I normally have very good results with cooking unsoaked beans at high pressure for 60 minutes. Have you tried pressure cooking this recipe? Any ideas how long the beans will take at high pressure?EattheworldDallas10/06/19Well I said I was gonna make this and I did! All I can say is yum. Beans done early and I will confess half of the broth is veg broth. Sorry. The wilted greens and perfect olives with the lemon and a touch of heat if one adds a bit more chilli flakes depending on personal taste. What a perfect Fall recipe. I’ll be making this again and againAnonymousBolton Ontario Canada 09/12/19This is a delicious recipe. Love using the feta brine, and the depth and richness of the flavours. By simmering the soup with the lid partially open, it took 2 hours to cook the beans. Next time, will use the slow cooker. I also cut the garlic bread in bite size pieces after broiling it. I thought it would be awkward to slice the bread at the bottom of the bowl. And I agree with the author that the garlic bread should not be omitted.Has anyone used Kalamata olives? Would the flavor be too strong?Just made this, and it is amazing - very Greek/Italian flavours. I am in the UK so navy beans and escarole are not commonly available - substituted navy beans with haricot (same family) and escarole with rocket (arugala) and spinach. I used celery instead of fennel as I don't like fennel. Also ate heavenly bread with it as I can't stand soggy bread. Envisage eating this all winter. Many thanks - I am on a mission to up my bean intake and your recipes are great!This looks amazing and I so WILL be making this. 20g fat no big deal when diet amount of fat intake allowed it 36f I think? Judging by how hearty this is I don’t thing I could eat anything else that day!AnonymousBolton Ontario canada08/29/19I am just wondering how 20 g of saturated fat can be healthy. I was looking for healthy recipes....AnonymousSaskatchewan, Canada01/11/18This was amazing. I made it without feta and used a little bit of olive brine instead, to keep it dairy-free. The depth of flavour was incredible. I also found that the beans took a lot longer to cook, but it was worth it. I agree that you do not want to skip the toasted, garlic-rubbed bread - it adds yet another layer of flavour and texture and soaks up that delicious broth. Will make again for sure.You definitely need high quality feta here because it's the secret STAR. My beans took a little longer to cook than anticipated but you could easily do it with canned (and maybe add veg stock for extra oomph flavor). I used swiss chard because I couldn't find escarole and it turned out great. Don't skip the crusty bread on the bottom. I just toasted it, buttered, and sprinkled with garlic salt because I didn't feel like waiting on the oven.alexbeggsBonAppétit.com11/28/17

Watch the video: Food Wishes Recipes - Beans and Greens Recipe - How to Make Beans and Greens (October 2021).