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Sharp Health News

Hearty North African bean stew (recipe)

Oct. 30, 2018

Hearty North African bean stew (recipe)

Marilyn Biggica is a local chef, associate professor of food and nutrition at San Diego Continuing Education, and a supporter of the Above and Beyond Campaign for the new hospital at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. She also regularly contributes to menu development for the new hospital's rooftop café.

"I believe that if you're positive with patients and model that in a hospital's food service, it will certainly help them make good choices when they leave the hospital and recover at home," she says. "The rooftop café will be a great central point for mindful eating that sets the intention of healing for not only patients, but also visitors, employees, physicians and volunteers."

Recently, Marilyn partnered with Sharp Chula Vista's executive chef Justin Searle to provide a menu tasting for employees so they can offer feedback on items currently being considered for the new café.

One dish that stood out for all was Marilyn's North African Bean Stew.

North African Bean Stew
Yields 10 servings

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, including green parts, diced
2 cups celery ribs, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 1/2 tablespoons ground Baharat*
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pinch saffron strands
1/2 cup uncooked lentils
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
4 cups canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch cilantro leaves, torn
Optional: plain yogurt and Aleppo pepper, for serving

Over medium-high, heat olive oil in a large pot. When hot, add diced leeks and sauté, stirring often, until leeks just start to lightly brown. Add celery and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in Baharat, cinnamon stick and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Turn heat to high and stir in broth, 3 cups of water, barley and salt. Bring to a gentle boil. Lower heat and stir in saffron, lentils, turnip and squash. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans and half the cilantro. Bring to a simmer and cook until lentils and barley are tender.

Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Remove cinnamon stick. Ladle stew into bowls.Optional: top with a dollop of yogurt, garnish with cilantro, and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.

*Baharat is a Middle Eastern spice mix. It is available for purchase at specialty markets or can be made at home by combining: 

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika 
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric 
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1 teaspoon allspice

For the news media: To talk with Marilyn Biggica or Justin Searle about the new menu for Sharp Chula Vista’s rooftop café, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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