Haricots verts, French for “green beans,” are legit one of my favorite vegetables. No matter when I have them, they take me back to raucous family gatherings (what’s up, cousins?) in the days of my youth, since these green beans would often be a part of holiday spreads. This dish is inspired by run down, a stew popular in Jamaica, Tobago, and other Caribbean countries. Typically, the foundation of run down is fish and other sea creatures. My version includes roasted, firm, and meaty cremini mushrooms that pair well with the starchy sweet potatoes and russet potatoes. After sweating the aromatics, I add Xinjiang spice mix—a blend of flavors from the traditional Turkic cuisine of the Uighur people of Central and East Asia—to lend warm, peppery flavor to the rich, creamy coconut-tomato broth. I also add a whole Scotch bonnet or habanero chile to the stew while simmering to add more flavor and subtle heat. Be sure not to remove the stem or pierce the chile so it doesn’t impart too much heat. The delicate, delicious haricots verts are added right before serving so they stay crisp-tender. Of course, if you can’t find haricots verts, you can use regular green beans. Serve this stew on cool summer nights along with an aromatic grain dish, a side of fried green plantains, a leafy salad, and a rum-based cocktail.
3 tablespoons coconut oil
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
4 ounces sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 ounces russet potato, peeled and diced
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
3 cups medium-diced yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1½ teaspoons Xinjiang Spice Mix
1¾ cups canned crushed tomatoes, with their juices
¾ cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stem on
8 ounces haricots verts, cut in half on an angle
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large skillet, warm 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they release their liquid, then cook until all the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the sweet potato, russet potato, another tablespoon of the coconut oil, and ½ teaspoon of the salt and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spreading the vegetables in a single layer. Roast until the mushrooms are brown and the potatoes are starting to soften, about 30 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and sauté until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, Xinjiang spice mix, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and sauté until the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer, stirring often, until starting to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, chile, and the roasted vegetables. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the stew has thickened. Remove the chile and set it aside. For a tamer stew, remove the habanero after 10 minutes.
Ladle a heaping cup of the stew into a blender, puree until smooth, and return the pureed stew to the saucepan. Season with salt to taste. Stir in the haricots verts and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes.
To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with the cilantro. For extra heat, squeeze the liquid from the chile into To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with the cilantro. For extra heat, squeeze the liquid from the chile into the stew before serving.