Red Beans, Spices, Pomegranate and Cheese

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 cup uncooked small red beans or 2 cups cooked beans
  • 2 tbsp mild vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp ground dry ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp pomegranate juice or pomegranate molasses
  • 4 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 lb. sliced feta cheese


  1. If using uncooked beans, cook the beans until tender using your favorite technique (I like Rancho Gordo's bean cooking method), then drain and save the cooking liquid (to be used later in the recipe). If using canned beans, drain and rinse them.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat, then cook the onion in the oil, covered, stirring every few minutes. When the onion is tender (5 minutes or so), add the cooked beans. 

  3. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then mix in the spices, salt, and any reserved liquid (if using canned beans, add about 1/2 cup of water). Cook until the pan is almost dry, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and mix in the pomegranate juice or molasses and half of the chopped cilantro.

  4. Ideally, the beans should go into the refrigerator to mellow for about 8 hours and brought back to room temperature before serving, but if you can't wait, you can eat them warm or after they have cooled to room temperature. If you are going to refrigerate the beans before serving, put them in a glass storage bowl. If serving immediately or soon, transfer the beans to a serving bowl.
  5. Serve topped with the remaining chopped cilantro and the slices of feta cheese.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean by Paula Wolfert