Honey Beans and Spinach Slow Cooker Dinner

HELLO THERE! I'm sorry for shouting. I just wanted to prove that I was still here, alive and kicking. I sort of took an extended vacation for the holidays. I was planning on one week, and then all of a sudden it was m u c h  longer.

but I'm back! and it's 2012, and that means I've been writing on the Internet for 4 years, which in cyberspace time is an ETERNITY (there I go again with the yelling).

I'm a slow cooking dinosaur.

Was your New Year's Resolution to cook more? Save money? Eat lighter/healthier fare? 

mine too.

I wanted to make a vegetarian dinner that we would all enjoy, and thought about making Honey Lentils, since it's always such a hit, but desperately needed to use up the sweet potatoes and spinach from the produce drawer. The end result was PHENOMENAL (shouting warranted, this time).


The Ingredients.
serves 4-6

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced finely
2 medium (or 4 tiny) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (not pictured)
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup honey
1 (12-ounce) bag baby spinach, washed (even if the bag says washed, rinse it off again)
2 tablespoons cream cheese (optional)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Drain and rinse both cans of beans, and dump them into your crockpot. Add the onion, garlic, and sweet potato. Add dry spices, and stir in honey and lemon juice-- you want the beans and veggies in the pot to be coated with them. Rinse off your spinach, and add it to the pot. You'll need to squish it all in, but I promise it'll fit. Plop a dollop of cream cheese on top. Cover, and cook on low for 6 hours, or on high for about 3. Stir well before serving over a bed of white or brown basmati rice.

The spinach on top may stick to the edges of the pot and get a bit crispy. This is okay-- just peel them off and stir them in. The bit of cream cheese mixes with the lemon and honey to create a fabulous sauce. If you'd like to keep the dish dairy free, just omit the cream cheese; it's not necessary and won't be missed unless you do a side-by-side comparison, which would be kind of a weird thing to do if you're avoiding dairy.

The Verdict.

I get it that I can't rave about every dish each time I write and have it be believable. BUT I LOVED THIS. Dishes like this make me happy that I've learned how to cook with the slow cooker. I never ever ever would have attempted such a dinner 4 years ago; the ingredient list would have sounded funky.

ps: the kids ate salami and cheese.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at January 08, 2012

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What they say about this article

  1. What would you recommend doing to use dried beans instead of canned? I have a ton of dried beans to use up, and this sounds good.

  2. What can I substitute for the garbonza beans? I tried to get into the forum to ask this question and could not. Error page came up.

  3. This looks great, and I think it's just fine to only talk about food you like...I know I only want to make things that are going to taste great (like this). :)

    I have an unrelated question for you: do you have any good 10-hour recipes? I want to use my slow cooker more on weekdays, but I'm out at work for at least 10 hours. I have an older slow cooker that doesn't have a delayed starter (although maybe I'll get one). Any ideas would be great.

  4. LOL@ kids!! My kids are the same way....if it looks funky (or has red or green things in it) they opt out......more for us right???? :)

  5. I wonder if sour cream would work instead of the cream cheese? That's what I have in the house. I'll have to try it!

  6. @K-Koira, I'd recommend preparing the beans
    as suggested here then use them in the recipe.

    @Patsy, weird about the forums, sorry about that. I think they're working fine now. You can use any beans you'd like.

    @Susan, any large roast (beef or pork)or a big bean dish, soup, or stew is fine for over 10 hours of cooking.

    @Melissa, yup, I'm sure sour cream would work well, but I'd probably stir it in at the very end instead of letting it cook all day with the other stuff.

    I hope this helps a bit! Happy New Year all over again!

  7. I am so excited to cook this. Thanks, Stephanie.

  8. Hi.....I need to use up a pkg. of boneless spareribs, and was wondering what you think about adding them to this recipe. Maybe leaving out one can of the beans ?

  9. Thanks so much for a vegetarian option!!

  10. VieggieGirl131/10/2012

    Hi I am new here and made this recipe honey beans and spinach last night for dinner. I substituted a small amount of brown sugar for honey. At the end of the slow cooking I used my hand blender to make it even more creamier. I also used pita bread for the base instead of rice. It was a delicious meal and the house smelled really wonderful. Thank you. I really enjoy your blog and recipes.

  11. Janice Ellis said: (not ED)
    This recipe was amazing just like you wrote it! I can't stay out of it, and am in danger of eating the whole thing all by myself. The flavor is exquisite with the spices, sweetness (raw honey), and the cream cheese and the spinach added and everything else you put in it. I love it!!!! and can definitely see why you loved it, too! : )

  12. I just made this for dinner. I substituted kale for the spinach and it was great!

  13. Made this today and absolutely loved it. I used a can of black beans and a few chick peas I'd boiled and frozen a few weeks ago. Also didn't use any spinach as I didn't have any. Didn't put the cream cheese in the slow cooker, but as I served it, I put a spoonful of Cream cheese spread on each serving. It went over really well. I will definitely make it again and hope to try the spinach with it. Thanks

  14. We always love it when you post high-marks vegetarian meals... and even my picky 2-year old niece ate this for dinner! It was sooooo good. Not a single bowl leftover. Thanks!

  15. Going to make this this weekend! Looks so great! Love my slow cooker!

  16. Anonymous1/15/2012

    I made this tonight, and I substituted 1 1/2 cups of lentils (+ 3 cups of liquid, mostly chicken broth) for the garbanzo beans, after looking at the honey lentils recipe. There wasn't really any liquid left by the end of the 3 hours on high, and I would have like a little more oomph to the flavor - maybe more honey, maybe more cumin? Maybe it's the fact that we used lentils? The flavor is nice, though, if subtle, and I'd try it again. We didn't have cream cheese, so maybe the creaminess will be a nice counterbalance to the mealiness of the beans.

    Thanks for your site; it's a great go-to, whether it's morning or middle-of-the-day, for me, since my toddler daughter gets grouchy just around prime dinner cooking time. With the crock pot, we're both happier!

  17. In my crockpot right now. Used orange juice cause I have fresh oranges and reg sugar 1/8 c. since orange has sugar. added a few diced radishes since I have a ton to use up from my co-op. I could also see using yogurt at the end instead of sour cream or cream cheese( we make our own yogurt so always on hand others not so much) Thanks for another amazing Veggie or Vegan meal. Never would have thought to pair the spinach so happy needed a change.

  18. this looks delectable! may try this soon.

  19. Kristin1/17/2012

    Made this yesterday and was fantastic. Used plain ole potatoes instead of sweet potatoes per the boyfriend's request.

  20. Anonymous1/17/2012

    I just finished dinner and both my husband and I LOVED this recipe! I didn't have cumin or coriander, so I just omitted them (it was still delicious but I can see how it would be even better with the spices). My husband is a big meat eater so I added a few boneless skinless chicken thighs to the bottom of the slow cooker and when I stirred it they shredded into the mixture and it was delightful! I didn't add the cream cheese but didn't think it was missing anything.

    I just had to force myself to pack away the leftovers so I didn't keep eating it!

    Thank you for another great recipe!

  21. Hi Stephanie! It's crazy to think that I've been referencing your site for almost 4 years now! I got a crock pot and didn't know what to make it in (and I have to eat gluten-free) Crockpot365 to the rescue!

    Then, today, my friend told me that she bought your cookbook and I had to check out your site. I'm so thankful that you've shared so many amazing gluten-free crock pot recipes with everyone.

    Have a great night!

  22. I made this for my gluten-free, dairy-free family and it was a big hit! Thank you!

  23. I didn't know you'd even been away because I've been away. After purchasing your first two books, investing in a good crockpot and using your site like a fiend, I have been away for a year (yikes). But now, I'm back, and I've recommended your blog to a facebook group that I am participating in, called The Reinvention Project. Currently we are talking about healthy eating and making the time to plan for it. Your site immediately popped into my mind. I get 10% on any books sold on this group - just kidding! But there are over 200 women in the group, just sayin'.

  24. I cooked this last night and because I do not like cooked spinach I swapped this for collard greens. I have not had a full bowl yet but I did a taste test last night after the cooking was done. I have to say it was yummy. I would not have thought of this combination, nor would I have thought I would like it but it is tasty! The one downside, is I did not/do not have much liquid in the dish. This could be cause collards do not release as much water as spinach. Looking forward to making my rice and enjoying the full dish.

  25. Oh yummy, Stephanie - this looks delish! I'll be trying this one! :)

  26. Sounds delicious! It's make me hungry :) I will try this slow cooker recipe soon.

  27. Yummy! This looks really good!

  28. Jen and family1/24/2012

    I am not bean person. I mean, anytime I would see a recipe with beans, or a menu item with beans, I would run the other way. But I want to be a good role model to my kids (4.5 and 2) so I am trying new things ... AND I LOVE THIS RECIPE! I really wanted to tell everyone I know. I pinned it on Pinterest and posted to my facebook page. Its awesome! Thank you so much!

  29. This looks so deliciously healthy. I love sweet potatoes and spinach. Can't wait to give it a go in the slow cooker.

  30. Very healthy cooking option, I served this to my family and they loved it. The onion added a really nice kick to the flavours overall, certainly recommend this (shared it with my friend to !)

    Slow cooking is certainly coming a hobby of mine.

  31. We made this the other night and it was delicious. The only mistake that we made was to leave the crock pot on warm after cooking it, and eating it 2 hours after it was finished. Some of the chick peas were overcooked. The next day , I added pieces of honey goat cheese to the leftovers and it was amazing!

  32. Oh my goodness! I laughed so hard at your comment about your kids because when I read the list of ingredients, my first thought was, "My kids will never touch this!" My husband probably won't either, but who says I can't make a pot of this just for myself?! I think I could eat this every single meal until the whole thing is gone, it sounds so delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  33. Just got a great style in cooking spinach. I really want to try again your recipe, it will be my second time to do it.

  34. I"m making this right now. Should I stir the cream cheese or just let it sit on top while it cooks? Thanks!

  35. I just found you via pinterest. I've never done more in my crockpot than soup and roast, and my family gets tired of that quick. In the last 2 weeks, we've done 4 of your recipes. 3 total hits, one miss, but it might have been me. Anyway thanks for all the recipes, my family is enjoying the change of pace and I am enjoying walking in the door at 6 to a finished meal!

  36. This was REALLY good! Subbed about 1 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cardamom instead of any cumin or coriander. Subbed butternut squash for sweet potato. The squash would probably work better if pre-cooked a little. 2.5 hours was not enough. Had to nuke mixture in order to cook squash. Served over Trader Joe's precooked French lentils instead of rice. REALLY, REALLY good.

  37. P.S. Thank you, Stephanie!

  38. Hey there. My sister in law made this and it was fantastic. We have some cow dairy intolerant family members, so we substituted goat chevre in place of the cream cheese and it was AMAZING. Juat wanted to share. We are expecting a big ice storm and the power to go out. So I am going to try to make this on the wood stove. Hopefully it maintains a good temerature for cooking.