Fassoulia with ground beef: A taste of the Middle East

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By Jessica Grann

I am always looking for simple weekday meals that are nourishing and don’t take a lot of time to cook or to clean up. This recipe is a mash-up of fassoulia and spiced beef (hashweh) that I made on a whim. When the pot was scraped clean after dinner, I figured this would be a good recipe to share.


I took my fassoulia recipe, which is green beans cooked with tomatoes, and added ground beef and some extra spices, and served it over plain rice. You’ll enjoy this well-rounded dish with a Middle Eastern flavor.

Fassoulia with ground beef
Fassoulia with ground beef (Photo by Jessica Grann)

Fassoulia with ground beef

Serves 6

  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes, or 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons baharat/ seven spice
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • ½ cup water, but only if you’re
  • using fresh tomatoes
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans or whole frozen beans

Over medium-low heat, saute the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes, then add the ground beef.

Cook until chopped into small pieces and browned.

Stir in the baking soda. This may sound like a strange addition, but it is a tried-and-true way to soften cheaper cuts of meat. The mixture will bubble up with the addition of the baking soda. Continue stirring until it dissolves, about 1 minute.

Add in the spices and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour in the tomatoes and stir. If using canned tomatoes, you don’t need to add extra water, but if you’re using freshly diced tomatoes, add in a half cup of water.

Allow the mixture to come to a soft boil.

Add the beans in a layer over the meat, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid. Using tongs, mix the beans into the meat mixture and cook uncovered until fork tender, about 5 minutes.

Fresh beans will hold up better than frozen beans, and your goal is for the beans to be firm but fork-tender. Frozen beans will reduce more into the sauce but will still taste good. I had nice frozen beans when I made this recipe — you can tell that from the photo because they appear much smaller than if they had been fresh.

Serve over rice.

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