Crispy Bean Cakes With Harissa, Lemon and Herbs

Crispy Bean Cakes With Harissa, Lemon and Herbs

This recipe embraces any beans you’ve got in your pantry. Canned beans are easiest, but fresh shelled beans can be ready to go with a quick blanching, and dried beans can be used, too, if they’ve been soaked and cooked in advance. Toss the well-drained beans with harissa (or any red chile paste), scallions, herbs, lemon zest, cornstarch and a lightly whipped egg white. (The egg white and cornstarch give these bean cakes their crispness.) Shape them into patties for frying, and slice some lemon wedges for serving. Eat the patties as a vegetarian main dish, a side to roast chicken or fish, or as a snack with a dash of harissa.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Place the drained beans in a large bowl and crush using a fork or your fingers until coarsely mashed. Add the cilantro, dill, scallions, cornstarch, harissa, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest and stir to incorporate. Alternatively, you can incorporate ingredients using a food processor and pulse to combine.
  2. Step 2

    In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy and fold it into the bean mixture. Cover the mixture and refrigerate to chill slightly, at least 15 minutes, before shaping and frying.
  3. Step 3

    Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, use a 1/4-cup measure to scoop portions of the bean mixture into the oil. Using the flat surface of the cup, press each scooped portion to tightly pack and shape it into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn using a wide spatula, and brown the other side, about 2 minutes.
  4. Step 4

    Remove cooked cakes from oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels or a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Repeat until all the bean mixture is used, adding the remaining oil and removing any loose bits from the skillet as necessary. Return the bowl to the refrigerator in between batches to keep the mixture chilled.
  5. Step 5

    Serve lemon wedges alongside the crispy cakes for squeezing. Garnish with dollops of labneh, if using, additional fresh herbs and harissa for dipping.