This super easy to make vegetarian Spanish white beans stew makes a filling main course or a great side dish. Or it makes a great addition to an evening of Spanish tapas.
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History Of Spanish Tapas
Before moving to Spain I don’t think I fully understood exactly what Spanish tapas were.
Traditionally, bartenders in Seville, in Southern Spain, served drinks with a saucer on top to keep the flies out of the drink. Eventually, they started to put a little snack on the saucers. This would often be just a slice of jamon (cured ham) or some olives. It was a little snack on top, or tapa, of the drink.
Now, tapas are served around Spain, but the heart of the tapas culture is really in Andalusia in Southern Spain.
In the north, in the Basque Country, they serve pintxos, which are small snacks served on skewers or on top of slices of bread.
In Catalonia, where we live, tapas really aren’t a thing. Before I started traveling to Spain I didn’t realize how regional Spain’s cuisine really is. This white beans stew is one you would see in Southern Spain.
Check out our other Spanish recipes that I learned living in Spain:
What Are Spanish Tapas
Now, people around the world think of Spanish tapas as small plates of food. They can be anything, from a plate of jamon, to a small cup of soup, and yes, even to small plates of beans.
In Seville, Cordoba, and Granada, we often enjoy small plates of white beans with crusty bread. The cooks prepare the white beans with garlic and tomato. Sometimes the beans are cooked with chorizo or other meats.
We cook two varieties of these white bean tapas at home. Sometimes I make them vegetarian and sometimes with meat. Here, I share my basic Spanish white beans recipe. As a variation, check out my recipe for white beans and chorizo too.
Serving Spanish White Beans As A Tapa At Home
This recipe serves two people as a main course, with some crusty bread on the side for dipping. But I like to serve this as a tapa for our at-home Spanish aperitivo.
We do aperitivo at home once or twice a week. Often, I fill our table with Spanish vermouth, mixed olives, local cheese, slices of fresh bread with olive oil, and some sliced jamon. Then, I serve a small plate or bowl of these white beans to have something a little warm.
Check out some of these other vegetarian tapas recipes (without beans) to make during a tapas night.
Obviously, if you are a vegetarian, jamon is not on the menu. Here are some recommendations for vegetarian Spanish tapas that can be served alongside this dish. The Spanish white beans reheats well too, so it can be made ahead of time and just reheated if entertaining.
Ingredients For This Vegetarian Spanish White Beans Stew
As is the case with most Spanish recipes I make, I start with good Spanish olive oil if, along with onion and garlic. Be sure to dice the onion small so that there aren’t big chunks of onion in the final bean stew.
I like to use a garlic press too so that there aren’t big chunks of garlic in the stew. Try the Zulay stainless steel garlic press, which is easy to use. There’s no need to even peel the garlic ahead of time.
Seasoning And Spices
The stew is seasoned with ground cumin and paprika. The cumin adds a nutty, almost earthy flavor to the dish. I use pimiento dulce, or sweet pepper, rather than smoked paprika. You can buy Spanish sweet paprika on Amazon here.
Smoked paprika works fine too. We are just not fans of smoked paprika at our house. Also season the stew with salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid of salt! I will help to bring all of the flavors together.
Last, add a few bay leaves. Don’t forget to count how many you add in so that you can remove them later.
In addition to a can of white beans, or cannellini beans, I used about a cup of canned diced tomatoes. This adds an acidity to the dish and gives the stew its broth.
Before adding the white beans, be sure to place them in a colander and rinse them well under cool water. Because the canned white beans are already cooked, in the end, they are just being warmed in the stew. That’s why this recipe is so easy and so quick to make.
How To Make This Spanish White Beans Stew
This is a super easy to make white beans recipe, ready in only about 20 minutes. This is why it’s an easy midweek meal or the perfect addition to an evening of tapas.
Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized dutch oven or saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and tender but before the garlic starts to brown.
Then, add the cumin and paprika to the olive oil to release the aroma and flavors. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and rinsed white beans to the pot. Add salt and pepper and stir.
Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes and white beans are warm. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve with crusty bread or as part of an evening of tapas. I also like to sprinkle the beans with a little crushed red pepper to give some heat.
- 2 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, pressed or mashed
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 15 ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained
- Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized dutch oven or saucepan on medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and tender but before the garlic starts to brown.
- Add the cumin and paprika to the olive oil to release the aroma and flavors.
- Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and rinsed white beans to the pot.
- Add salt and pepper and stir.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes and white beans are warm. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
- Serve with crusty bread or as part of an evening of tapas.
This recipe serves 4-5 tapas portions, which are small plates, or two servings of a main course.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 236Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 158mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 9gSugar: 3gProtein: 11g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.