Navy Bean and Escarole Stew with Vegan Feta and Olives

We’ve finally had the hard frost we’ve been waiting for here in Michigan. If you haven’t heard we have had an unusually high amount of cases of eastern equine encephalitis or EEE. It’s a nasty disease that mostly affects horses, but can also infect humans. It has a high fatality rate. We even sprayed for mosquitoes at the end of September, which is something we don’t do at that time of year. Now that the first hard frost has hit and killed the mosquitoes, it’s time for some cold weather stews. I found one from Epicurious called Navy Bean and Escarole Stew with Feta and Olives. When I found this recipe it looked a lot better than just plain bean stew. There’s one problem with feta cheese and olives, they are high in sodium. I plan to use the vegan feta recipe to combat some of that sodium. Otherwise this looks like a simple healthy stew with some great flavor. It should not need too many tweaks. Here are the original stats:

Here’s what I changed:

  • I deleted the bread to remove excess calories
  • I lowered the amount of olive oil to reduce the calories.
  • I increased the servings from 8 to 10 to reduce the calories.
  • I removed the feta and replaced with vegan feta to remove the dairy and reduce the sodium.
  • I added both spinach and broccoli to keep this green and add more vitamin’s A and C

Here are the updated stats:

Here is the final recipe:

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Navy Bean and Escarole Stew with Vegan Feta and Olives

Serves 10

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 pound of broccoli, stems and crowns chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dried navy beans, soaked overnight, drained
  • 4 large sprigs basil, plus leaves for serving
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted, torn
  • 1.5 pounds of escarole, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
  • 15 ounces of spinach, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 10 servings of vegan feta
  1. Slice 1 garlic clove in half crosswise and set aside; smash remaining garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife.
  2. 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 3/4 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 1/2–1 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 in broccoli after 40 minutes.
  3. Add basil sprigs and olives to stew, then add escarole and spinach 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.  Serve with vegan feta.
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