Tunisian Braised White Beans With Charred Spinach

Written by Eydie Desser

While traveling through NYC, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Chef Lior Lev Sercarz at his amazing spice shop, La Boite on the far west side of town, (11th @ 51st st.). I have never met a chef who understands spices like Lior does. He taught me that we can take one recipe, spice it 3 different ways, and can experience that dish from 3 differnt cultures. I love it and plan to explore this way of cooking and provide recipes for all of you! One key element is that the spices must be fresh to make your dishes “sing”. Did you know that a spice from one country will taste completely different than the same spice from a different country? It’s like wine…it’s all about the terroir (the soil). Where our food comes from and how it is grown is tantamount to the taste of our food and its nutrients. Garden of Eydie is here to help you demistify the amazing world of spices, via my education from Lior. I’m so excited as my neighbor, Polly and I are hosting Lior at our homes in Santa Monica, Dec. 11th for a fundraiser to promote his creation of a culinary school and agricultural center in Northern Israel, in the Galiliee! If you’re in the area, let us know and we’ll be sure to include you in the invitation! We’ll be providing delicious recipes from his cookbooks and he will be demonstrating a recipe, as well, using diferent spices and show us how seasoning our food makes all the difference in our enjoyment of that dish! Try out Lior’s recipe for Tunisian braised white beans with charred spinach recipe below.


  • Spice Blend, all finely ground in spice grinder
    • 4 whole dried bay leaves
    • 1-1/2 t fennel seeds
    • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. dried cannellini beans soaked overnight in water to cover the beans by 2″, tightly covered and placed in the refrigerator
  • 5 oz. package of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • Chef Lior adds salt, Garden of Eydie health tenets say to add a pinch of salt,at the end, only if you need it. The spices are so flavorful, we don’t think you’ll need the salt after all!
  • 1 TB or more, juice from a lemon (this will “brighten” the flavors of the final dish)


1- Heat oven to broil. Place spinach on a parchment lined sheet pan and broil for about 3-4 minutes or until the spinach is just beginning to crisp and lightly char around the edges. Remove from oven.

2- Drain beans and rinse.

3- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and stir quickly. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the charred spinach and half the spice blend. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, the rest of the spice blend, stir and then then add the beans. Add 3-4 cups of water to cover the beans, and bring to a simmer.   Cover the pot and lower the heat to low, and continue to simmer the beans, about 40-60 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.

4- Taste and add a tablespoon of lemon juice, taste again, adding more as needed.

To Serve as an Hors D’oeuvre:  Place beans on toasted baguette or flatbread

To Serve as a Side Dish:  Place on side of Steamed Vegetables and Roasted Root Vegetables

To Serve as an Entree:  Serve braised beans over millet, brown rice or couscous

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