What is life without good food? Inspired by home cooking and travel, I create easy recipes for the everyday.
What Is Lobio?
Hailing from the European country of Georgia, lobio is a traditional dish that is made from various kinds of beans. Usually enhanced with ingredients such as coriander, walnuts, garlic and onion, it comes in many variations.
Lobio nigozit is the version that has inspired this recipe. This variation is a stew of red kidney beans, spices and walnuts that is baked in a hot oven and served bubbling at the table. I first tasted this dish while on holiday in Georgia, and it has quickly become one of my all-time favourites.
With such simple ingredients, the variations are endless. Indeed, I never tasted two that were quite the same. Pickled vegetables and mchadi, a Georgian cornbread, are the traditional accompaniments. My favourite combination is lobio served with fries, and a cucumber and tomato salad (otherwise known as shepherd's salad). I like to wash it down with an ice-cold beer or a glass of delicious Georgian wine.
How I Adapted the Lobio Recipe
This recipe is not an authentic Georgian recipe, so I apologise to any Georgians who think that this is an atrocious bastardisation of a beloved meal. Instead, I hope you see it for what it is—a tourist's thrifty homage to a truly delicious dish.
For me living in the UK, creating a traditional Georgian lobio requires trips to several shops to buy various fresh herbs and out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. To avoid too many trips, I have created a version using ingredients that I (and hopefully those reading this) already have in the cupboard.
The flavours are very similar to those of a traditional Georgian lobio. As with the original, this version is a tasty combination of earthy, herby, tart and spicy flavours.
Traditional lobio uses dried red kidney beans, but because I have them already, I have used canned ones. For extra goodness, I have added some canned spinach. You can choose to leave this out, or swap it for another leafy green.
At first, this recipe seems like a strange combination of disparate ingredients. Indeed, if you taste the stew partway through cooking, you will find the vinegar/pomegranate molasses too tart and the pepper too peppery. But don't panic! Once these ingredients have cooked together for a while, they fuse to form a complex, yet humble stew.
Admittedly, vegan Georgian-style bean stew is not the most aesthetically pleasing of meals. But you can make it look a lot more pretty by topping it with one or several of the following ingredients:
- Fresh herbs you have to hand, such as coriander or thyme
- Thinly-sliced raw onion
- Finely chopped pickles, such as gherkins or jalapeño peppers
- Chopped nuts
This bean stew is the perfect meal to comfort you on a cold and wet day. It also works deliciously in warmer weather along with a shepherd's salad and hoppy craft ale.
|Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 30 min
1 hour 30 min
- 2 (400 grams/14 oz) cans red kidney beans
- 1 (400 grams/14 oz) can spinach
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh equivalent
- 1 teaspoon onion powder or fresh equivalent
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dry mixed herbs or thyme, or marjoram, or oregano
- 500 millileters vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon of nut or seed butter, such as walnut, peanut, almond or tahini (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek (optional)
Note: If you do not have all the ingredients listed above, you can leave some out. The key ingredients are the kidney beans, onion, coriander, black pepper, a herb and a sweet and tart sauce (in this case either pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar).
- Drain and wash the canned kidney beans.
- Add to the pan alongside garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper.
- Add your vegetable stock.
- Add bay leaf if using and pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar.
- Bring to the boil, then cover and turn down the heat to low.
- Stew for around 1 hour.
- Add nut/seed butter (if using), ground coriander, paprika, herbs, other spices and stir.
- Using a spoon or masher, start mashing the kidney beans to form a thick dhal-like texture.
- Empty spinach can into pan and stir in, ensuring all ingredients are well combined.
There you have it! A delicious, comforting, complex yet humble stew.
My favourite way to eat this stew is with a starchy carb such as fries, wedges, mashed potato or polenta. It's also delicious served along with garlic bread, or with cornbread and pickles. You can also stretch this meal by adding water or extra stock to transform it into a soup.
Another Store Cupboard Recipe
- Store Cupboard Briam: Briam (otherwise known as Greek ratatouille) is a tasty dish of roasted vegetables and wine. This version is made from ingredients in your pantry.