Warm Up this Winter with a Hearty Spanish Bean Stew
While Spain is known around the globe for its bright sunshine, beautiful beaches, and summer heat, the wintertime can be quite cold and dreary in some parts of the country. One way that the Spanish like to warm up on a particularly chilly day is with a tasty, hearty stew. They especially love a filling, Spanish bean stew to warm them up and fill their bellies, like these 5 we’ve rounded up.
Beans in Spanish cuisine
Beans are a staple ingredient in Spanish cuisine, as Spaniards eat about three meals with legumes a week, on average. Every Spanish grandmother will advise you to eat legumes for lunch thrice weekly, in some form or another. Beans are packed with fiber, protein, and potassium and are very low in fat. Because they are also quite versatile, there are many ways that legumes can be prepared in Spanish cuisine. Most commonly, beans are the star ingredient in soups and stews, like these.
One of the most classic dishes in Spanish cuisine is lentejas estofadas. This lentil dish is one that Spaniards eat at home quite frequently, as it is quite easy to prepare, especially with a pressure cooker on hand. Every mother has their own take on this Spanish bean stew, which can be modified to be vegan or vegetarian. Classically, this stew contains lentils, carrots, potatoes, onion, garlic, and perhaps a bit of chorizo. The lentils give a hefty serving of protein, so this dish is quite filling without feeling too heavy.
Cocido madrileño gets its name from the region that it hails from, Madrid. This stew features garbanzo beans, along with several kinds of meat and vegetables. Even though cocido is cooked altogether in one pot, this stew is often separated and eaten over two courses. First up is the broth, usually with small noodles added, to enjoy the flavor. After the broth, the chickpeas, stewed meat, and veggies are served apart. Since Spaniards eat their main meal of the day at lunch time, cocido is quite a substantial lunch to get you through the day.
What cocido is to Madrid, puchero is to Andalusia. For centuries, this recipe for peasant’s stew has been handed down from generation to generation. This stew fueled workers through the day in the past, but is now a part of Andalusian culture. The chickpeas and bits of fatty meat, like ham and chicken, in this Spanish bean stew will keep you full for hours. Puchero often has vegetables like carrots, celery and potatoes added in for vitamins and minerals. This stew is good all year round, so don’t limit it to only the cold months!
Alubias rojas a la riojana
Even though chickpeas and lentils are the most common beans in Spanish cuisine, they aren’t the only ones. Alubias rojas a la riojana is a delicious recipe that features red beans, which are full of fiber and nutrients. This Spanish bean stew is from the region of La Rioja, which is also home to some of Spain’s finest wines. In your bowl you’ll find red beans, carrots, onions, and bits of pork belly and chorizo, stewed to perfection. Paprika and other spices give this stew a rich depth of flavors that you’ll absolutely love.
One of the richest, heartiest Spanish bean stews of all is fabada asturiana. This recipe comes from the region of Asturias in the north of Spain. Winters are longer here and the climate is much wetter and colder than many parts of Spain. For this, the locals have developed a bean stew to fight the cold and help warm up on those dreary days. Large white beans, fabas, are the main component in this dish. Other tasty ingredients include the usual veggies like carrots, potatoes, an onion, with savory cured meats added in for the final touch. Chorizo, morcilla, and tocino (pork belly) all lend some saltiness and flavor to the stew, giving it an unforgettable taste. Even more handy is that many stores sell all the ingredients together in vacuum-sealed packets, so preparing fabada is a cinch!
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