Credit Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
I think in green in early April. Itâs too early for some of the brighter spring vegetables, but dark green collards, light green fennel and bright jalapeÃ±o are all available at my local supermarket. And in my pantry, thereâs a bag of very pale green dried flageolet beans; this early spring stew is a perfect home for them.
Collard Greens Tagine With Flageolets
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I call the dish a tagine because it tastes like a Tunisian stew; its warm triumvirate of spices â coriander, cumin and caraway â are always present in the classic Tunisian spice mix called tabil. It is inspired by the Tunisian tagines I make to serve with couscous, but I served this instead with whole grain flatbread.
A Tunisian tagine or ragout usually includes a lamb or veal shank, and the vegetables are simply thrown into the pot with the beans and shank. Since my version is vegetarian, I cooked the onions and fennel in olive oil before adding them to the beans so the dish would have a bit of fat and the vegetables would have more flavor.
I also omitted another signature Tunisian ingredient, the red chile paste harissa, in favor of a jalapeÃ±o. I craved a fresher kind of heat, something more evocative of springtime. The jalapeÃ±o has that wonderful grassy backdrop, as does the abundant cilantro.
The final touch, a smidgen of preserved lemon, is optional. I wouldnât want you to skip this recipe just because you donât have preserved lemons, but they add a bright salty-sour accent that I love.