Greens, Fennel, and Bean Tagine

Recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman

Note from Elaine: this recipe is a favorite and I make this  all the time when we have fennel, collards, and cilantro in abundance. I don't bother to cook the beans with onions and garlic (given all the spices later, the extra step of adding aromatics and then discarding doesn't seem necessary). It is really good with couscous, but also tastes great with bread.


½ pound (about 1⅛ cups) dried white beans, soaked at least 6 hours in 1 quart water, then drained
1 large onion
4 large garlic cloves; 2 crushed, 2 minced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound (about 1 large) fennel bulb, cored and diced, fronds chopped and reserved for garnish
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon paprika or Aleppo pepper
1 large jalapeño, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound (about 1 generous bunch) collard greens or spigarello, or other hearty greens like kale (dino kale would be best)
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup), plus additional for garnish
2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon (optional)
Cooked grains or couscous, for serving (optional)


Transfer drained beans to a large, heavy flameproof casserole or Dutch oven. Cut onion in half; cut one of the halves in half and chop the rest. Set aside chopped onion and add quarters to pot.

Add 5 cups water (6 if serving over grains or couscous), and crushed garlic cloves to casserole, and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Skim off foam, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes. Using tongs, remove onion and garlic cloves and discard.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat, toast coriander, caraway and cumin seeds together just until they begin to release their aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer immediately to a spice mill and allow to cool for a few minutes, then grind.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet and add remaining onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, diced fennel and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, another 5 minutes, until fennel has softened slightly. Stir into beans. Add ground spices, paprika, additional salt, jalapeño and tomato paste and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.

Meanwhile, stem and wash collard greens. Cut leaves in half down the middle. Stack and roll up several leaves, and cut crosswise into ½-inch strips. You should have about 5 cups of greens.

Add collard greens to beans and vegetables. Bring back to a simmer, cover and simmer 15 to 30 minutes, until greens and beans are tender. Stir in cilantro and chopped fennel fronds and simmer another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Ladle into wide soup bowls. If using preserved lemons, place a teaspoonful on each serving, for guests to stir in. Garnish with chopped cilantro or a combination of chopped cilantro and fennel, and serve.