Recipe and Tips
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, divided
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups dried Delicious Crete Medium White Beans, soaked overnight, drained
- 8 ounces feta, preferably in brine, brine reserved, cheese crumbled
- 4 large sprigs basil, plus leaves for serving
- 1 cup Delicious Crete Cracked Green Olives with lemon, pitted, torn
- 1 head of escarole, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces or 1 large bunch of Amaranth (or any dark greens of your choosing) If in Crete, there are many varieties of wild greens to use.
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 1-inch-thick slices country-style bread
- 2 tablespoons Delicious Crete lemon-infused olive oil
- Slice 1 garlic clove in half crosswise and set aside; smash remaining garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife.
- Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat. 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 ¾ 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 ½–1 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 basil sprigs and olives to stew, then add greens in batches, letting wilt slightly before adding more; simmer just until they are 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 over low while you make the toast.
- Heat broiler. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. Lemon- olive oil over both sides of bread and place on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil until bread is golden and toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Let cool slightly then rub with the cut sides of reserved garlic clove.
- To serve, slice toast in half and divide among shallow bowls; ladle stew over. Top with feta, basil leaves, and more red pepper flakes and drizzle with oil.
Do Ahead: Stew can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat covered over low.
There’s no stock in this wintry vegetarian stew recipe—it relies on the starchy bean cooking liquid for its flavor (which is a polite way of saying sorry, but you can’t use canned beans here and get the same results).