Slow Cooker Ginger-Harissa White Bean Stew

This stew has it all–fresh herbs, fresh ginger root, spicy harissa paste, lemon, garlic cloves, sweet potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, spelt berries, and cannellini beans  Together, it is balanced, hearty, and delicious.  With about 15 minutes of total prep time and 4 hours to simmer in the slow cooker, it delivers on flavor.

Spelt berries add a chewy component to this stew.  I like toasting them to deepen their flavor.  Feel free to switch up with other whole grains, like wheat berries, farro or barley.  Make sure it’s a hearty whole grain that will hold up to cooking for a long time.  If you would like to make this gluten-free, simply omit them from the recipe.  

When I want to infuse soups or stews with a fresh lemon flavor, I like to add a part of the lemon peel right into the mix.  For this recipe, I thinly sliced off a 2″ X 1″ piece of lemon peel from a fresh lemon, scraping to remove as much of the white part as I could, and added it to the crockpot.  Later, I used the juice from the same lemon to finish off the recipe.  

I added the kale, lemon juice, and additional harissa paste at the end.  The kale does not take long to cook.  In fact, just stirring it in does all the cooking it needs.  Adding the lemon juice and additional harissa paste at the end keeps the flavor fresh and on point.  If you prefer a milder stew, add less harissa paste.  If you enjoy a spicier stew, kick that harissa paste up a notch.  Make sure to taste, and make any adjustments.  

Oh, and the mint and parsley!  They add freshness and brighten the flavor.  SO good!  

Slow Cooker Ginger-Harissa White Bean Stew

1 large onion, sliced into crescents

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 ½ inches of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ cup spelt berries (or substitute wheat berries, farro or barley – see note above)

¾ tsp ground cumin

1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes

2 medium zucchini, sliced in half and thick cut in crescents

1 large sweet potato, skin left on and cubed

2 celery stalks, diced

1 cup broth (fake chicken or vegetable)

1 15 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp harissa paste, divided (see note above)

2″ X 1″ piece of fresh lemon peel (see note above)

2 cups lacinato kale, stems removed and torn

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Fresh mint and parsley, to top

1. In a large skillet, sauté onions, garlic and fresh ginger in olive oil with a dash of salt over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions are transparent.  Stir in the spelt berries, and toast for 5 minutes over low heat.  Make sure to constantly stir the spelt around while it is toasting to prevent it from burning.  Add the ground cumin, and stir around for another 60 seconds.

2. Add the spelt-onion mixture to your slow cooker.  Then, add the tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potato, celery, broth, cannellini beans, 1 Tbsp of harissa paste, and the lemon peel to your slow cooker.  Secure the lid, and cook on HIGH for 4 hours.

3. Remove the lid.  Stir in kale, lemon juice, and the other 1 Tbsp of harissa.  Taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed.  Serve topped with fresh mint leaves and/or chopped flat leaf parsley.

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