Fanesca sounds a bit like an exotic love interest, and perhaps it is if a savory stew is your desire. It’s actually an Ecuadorian dish that’s traditionally eaten on Good Friday, which makes today’s take rather timely. Fanesca varies from one family and region to another, but generally includes salted cod along with various beans & grains, some of which are only grown in the Andean highlands.

Francois and I first discovered Fanesca when we stayed at the Carloto hotel in Quito. The hotel restaurant was wonderful and the chef went out of his way to make vegan dinners for us, one such dinner being Fanesca, which we immediately fell for. This vegan rendition is an attempt to recreate the experience of that memorable meal.

The most important rule of this recipe is that you use a total of 12 beans, grains, and vegetables to represent the 12 apostles, therefore earning the stew its holiday role. The toppings are where you can really get creative in the kitchen; feel free to garnish with any combination of parsley, chilies, cheese, sweet plantain, empanadas, or avocado to name just a few!


Prepare the sauce – In a 4 quart saucepan, add the butternut squash and water. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the zucchini and cabbage and continue to simmer for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Purée until smooth in a high-speed blender, in batches, until smooth. Pour into a large stock pot, cover and keep warm.

Prepare the sautéed vegetables –  In a large skillet over medium low heat, melt the vegan butter or olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the potato, chayote, carrot, garlic and the spices and cook until very tender, about 15 minutes. Add to the sauce in the large pot, along with the coconut cream. Add the remaining vegetable and beans. Stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes on medium heat until hot.

To serve – Ladle the Fanesca into a large flat bowl and garnish with the toppings of your choice.

serves eight


  • 4 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 zucchini, chopped, about 2 cups
  • ½ head of cabbage, chopped, about 2 cups
  • 1 cup cooked Jasmine rice
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • ¼ cup oat bran
  • 2 cups oat milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric


  • 3 tbsp vegan butter or (olive oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large red potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 chayote, diced
  • 1 large yellow carrot, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 5.4 oz can coconut cream


  • ½ cup garbanzos, cooked
  • ½ cup cannelini beans, cooked
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup frozen lima beans
  • ½ cup frozen corn


  • minced cilantro
  • sliced avocado
  • plantain chips
  • fresno chiles, sliced
  • chives
  • crumbled tofu
  • hard boiled eggs