Monday, April 25, 2016

The FAVArite Spring Bean

We Americans don't do fava, the ancient protein packed wonder bean of the Mediterranean. That's a shame because fava beans, especially dried, may be the tastiest and sweetest of the class. And spring is their season. If you get them fresh and slim from a farmers' market, you don't have to double peel them--an added bonus. And you should get them: they are a nutritional treasure chest of iron, protein, potassium and magnesium. Plus their bright green is invigorating to look at.

Fava beans have an alias: broad beans. In a few places they're aka pigeon beans or horse beans. Dried and canned, they're often called "ful." But right now is fresh fava harvest. So here are a few ways to dig in and enjoy them while the getting is good.

Spring Fava and Leftover Lamb Pilaf 
Serves 4
1 1/4 lbs fava beans, removed from their pods
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 mint leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
Juice of ¼ lemon
For the pilaf
2 onions, sliced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground coriander
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3/4 c brown basmati rice
1/2 lb  lamb, leftover from a roast, shredded into bite-size pieces
A small cinnamon stick
1 2/3 c water
To serve
Toasted cumin seeds
Salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

      First, prepare the beans. Coat the bottom of a lidded frying pan with 2-3 tbsp olive oil and warm over medium heat. Gently sauté the fava beans. Add the sliced garlic, cover and cook  2 minutes. Add the chopped mint, coriander and lemon juice and sauté 2 more minutes. Set aside.
      Preheat the oven to 325º. Coat the bottom of a heavy-bottom casserole dish with 2-3 tbsp olive oil and gently sauté the onions 15-20 minutes, until soft and caramelized. Add the coriander and garlic and cook  2 more minutes.
      Add the rice and stir, coating every grain with oil, onion and spice. Add the lamb, cooked broad beans, cinnamon stick and water. Bring to a boil,  reduce heat, taste and adjust the seasoning. Put the lid on and place the dish in the oven about 45 minutes. All the water should be absorbed.
      Serve with yogurt seasoned with toasted cumin seeds, salt and pepper, and olive oil.

Spring Fava with Fresh Artichokes, Peas and Lettuce
serves 6
juice of 1 lemon
6 lg artichokes
4 heads Little Gem lettuce
1/4 c olive oil, good quality is best
2 lbs fresh shelled fava beans, blanched and peeled
1/4 c chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c vegetable broth
1 c shelled English peas

grated zest of 2 lemons
6 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Fill a bowl with water and the lemon juice so you can prepare the artichokes. Trim each stem flush with the bottom and remove all the leaves to get to the heart. Pare off the dark green areas at the base. Half each heart and scoop out the choke with a paring knife. Put in the lemon water.
   Core the lettuce and slice the leaves across into 1/2" wide strips. Drain the artichokes and cut into thin slices.
   Make the gremolata topping by combining in a small bowl the lemon zest, chopped parsley, garic and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
   In a deep sauté pan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the artichoke slices and sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the fava beans, lettuce, parsley, basil and just enough stock to barely cover everything. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Raise heat to medium and sauté, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated--maybe 10-12 minutes. After 5 minutes add the peas. In the end, the artichokes and peas should be tender.
   Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the germolata and let the dish rest five minutes before serving.

Italian Fava Bean and Pasta Soup
This recipe often calls from teensy clumps of egg pasta known as frascarelli, which you have to make yourself. I have substituted two options: spaetzle, which is an egg pasta, and fregola, which is not. It's toasted though and that adds another dimension.
serves 4

1 large red onion 
2 carrots
6 celery stalks
3 garlic loves, chopped
2 dried chilies, minced or crumbled
1 1/2 lbs shelled fava beans (you'll need to buy about 3 lbs in the pod)
2 1/2 c strained tomatoes or tomato puree 

1/2 tsp dried sage
1 c spaetzle or fregola (if you use fregola par cook it 5 minutes in boiling water)
1/2 lb pecorino cheese
salt and pepper

Garnish: flat leaf parsley 

Dice the onion, carrot and celery. Sweat them with a pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan--this means cook them on low heat and let the salt bring out their juices. If you are worried about burning, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Once the veggies have started to soften, add the garlic and chili. Cook on your lowest heat for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to release its sweetness. Add the tomato puree and increase the heat to low/medium.
Cook for 8 minutes, then 8 cups of water. Reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pasta you chose. Simmer for 10 minutes, adding boiling water if it looks too thick. Serve immediately with grated cheese and freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.

Moroccan Fava Bean Soup
 serves 4
2 pounds fresh fava beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium or large carrots, peeled and diced 2 medium turnips, peeled and diced
1 small potato (about 4 ounces), peeled and diced
2 quarts water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
Salt to taste
A bouquet garni made with a couple of sprigs of parsley, a bay leaf and several sprigs of cilantro
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin 
Garnish: cilantro leaves and optionally, mint leaves

Peel the favas. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Boil shelled fava beans 5 minutes, drain and transfer immediately to the cold water. Allow the beans to cool for several minutes, then slip off their skins by pinching off the eye of the skin and squeezing gently. Hold several beans in one hand and use your other thumb and forefinger to pinch off the eyes, have a bowl for the shelled favas close at hand and this will not take very long.

In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium flame, and add leeks, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add turnips, potatoes, favas, water or stock, salt, cumin and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Remove and discard the bouquet garni.

Using a hand blender or a food mill, purée the soup, making sure that you place a towel over the top of the blender and remove the inner part of the lid to avoid hot splashes. Return to the pot, add the pepper, turmeric and chopped cilantro and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Serve in wide soup bowls, garnished with cilantro leaves/ optionally mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil over each serving.

Nepali Fava Beans with Potatoes and Spices
serves 3-4
1 lb fava beans, shelled and skinned
4 medium boiling potatoes, cleaned
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground chili powder
1/4 tsp garam masala or curry powder
2 tbsp mustard, corn or canola oil

Peel potatoes and cut them into large bite-sized pieces
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and fry until they pop. Add fava beans and potatoes, salt and all spices but garam masala/curry powder. Stir to blend. Add about 1/4 c hot water and cook over low heat until potatoes and beans are tender. Add water if necessary along the way. When liquid has evaporated and potatoes are tender, remove from heat. Stir in the garam masala,curry powder, check salt and adjust if necessary. Serve with rice, paratha or naan.

Fava Mint Puree (aka "hummus") 
Serves 4
2 lb broad beans shelled
1/3 c chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 c olive oil
5 oz pecorino cheese grated
1 clove garlic peeled
salt and pepper

Boil the shelled beans in salted water until tender. Drain and allow to cool. Remove any thick coverings.  Put garlic and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle and pound to a paste. Continue pounding, adding the herbs little by little. Then add the beans and work until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, stir in olive oil and cheese. OR put everything in a food processor and whizz quickly to make a paste. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust.

Spring Fava and Mint with Feta and Fregola 
This is a cross between a risotto and pasta dish, a one-course meal
serves 3-4

1 c shelled fava beans
3 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
4 spring onions, diced as far up the green as you can go
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chorizo, minced
1/4 c chopped fresh mint leaves
1 celery stalk, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 lb fresh feta, crumbled
1 c chopped tomatoes (boxed is fine)
2 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp freshly chopped dill
1 1/4 c fregola
3 c vegetable broth
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the shelled fava beans in salted boiling water. Remove, drain and when cool slip the outer skins.
Bring the vegetable broth to boil in a medium pot and add the fregola. Cook about 8 minutes, until the fregola is al dente. Drain but retain the broth.
   While fregola is cooking, coat the bottom of a medium skillet with the olive oil and warm it on low heat. Add the chorizo, shallot, celery and garlic and sauté 3-5 minutes until everything is soft. Add the oregano, cumin, cinnamon and stir to blend. Add the tomatoes, fava beans, mint and dates. Continue cooking until the beans are tender and tomato is hot, maybe 5 minutes.
  Stir in the fregola and feta, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 c of the fregola cooking broth and stir. Cook until all liquid has evaporated, less then 5 minutes.  Stir in the dill, adjust salt and serve.

Simple Greek style Sautéed Fava Beans in Olive Oil
serves 4-6

3 lbs fava beans in pods
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c olive oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Serve with thick yogurt

Shell the fava beans and quickly blanch them in boiling salted water. Drain, cool and slip the skins.
In a medium skillet or heavy gauge pot, heat the olive oil over low/medium. Add scallions and garlic and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. Sauté 1-2 minutes. Add beans, dill and salt to your taste. Add up to 1/4 c hot water--just enough to reach the beans in the pot. Cover and cook over low/medium heat until water has evaporated and beans are tender. Check for salt. Remove to a serving dish. Optionally, add a dollop of thick plain yogurt.

To make these Italian style, omit the yogurt and stir in 2 tbsp grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Very Chic Peas: the little black dress of food

Any season, any time of day, chickpeas seal the meal. Almost every culture revels in recipes for garbanzos, pois chiche, ceci, nohut or kabuli chana (peas from Kabul). They are the little black dress of the kitchen: perfect with and for everything.

So let's honor chickpeas as a perfect transit vehicle from winter into spring and see how they can take us straight to summer. Let's honor chickpeas because they make all our fresh vegetables and meats livelier and tastier. And for the vegetarians/vegans among us, they are a reliable source of protein.

Here's 8 easy, yummy completely differing ways the world loves chickpeas. Not included are longtime favorite posted recipes for Greek Island Rice and Chickpea Soup with Feta or Palestinian Lamb with Chard and Chickpeas.

Arabic Roasted Eggplant stuffed with Chickpeas in Tomato Mint Sauce
This is an Arabic version of what we know as Moussaka. It's actually called Moussaq'a.
It's a great summer appetizer/mezze/tapa and also a great lunch served with whole wheat pita.
Photo is before dollops of yogurt were added.

10 servings

3 large eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise (about 1/2 inch thick)

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for pans

1/4 cup peanut oil

1 med/lg onion, minced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tsp allspice

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground Aleppo pepper

1 tbsp + 1 tsp pomegranate molasses

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 tbsp minced fresh parsley

2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Whole mint leaves for garnish

Thick yogurt for serving

Heat oven to 450º and lightly oil two baking sheets or use nonstick ones. Combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and peanut oil. Brush eggplant slices on both sides with the mixture, then place on pans. Roast, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Set aside.

chickpea filling
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, spices and molasses. Bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook until thick, 5 to 10 minutes more. Stir in half the pine nuts, parsley and chopped mint. Set aside to cool.


To serve: place a slice of eggplant on a platter and spoon tomato-chickpea mixture onto the wide end of the slice. Fold the narrower end of the slice over to cover the filling and place a mint leaf on top. Repeat with remaining slices and garnish with remaining pine nuts. Top each roll with a dollop of thick yogurt and serve cold or at room temperature.

Spanish Chickpea Salad
perfect anytime of year

Serves 6

12oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed several times

½ small/med red onion, peeled and finely diced (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, minced (about 8 leaves)

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves only, minced

juice of one lemon

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmigiano cheese (you want thin stringlike shreds)

5 lg pimento stuffed green olives, thinly sliced

1 med/lg garlic clove, peeled and minced

¼ tsp dried oregano leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Once the chickpeas have been thoroughly rinsed and are totally dry,

Combine all ingredients. Chill overnight and serve.
Armenian Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas
Perfect spring fling. I recently posted this in my Easter parade of recipes for lamb.
 serves 4
olive oil to coat your pan
4 lamb shanks, trimmed of fat and gristle
4 lg tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium red onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cayenne or chili pepper
4 c heated vegetable broth, or water
1 20-oz can chickpeas (2 c), rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 450º. Coat the bottom or a large roasting pan lightly with olive oil. Cover with lamb shanks and roll them to coat in the oil. Roast 30 minutes, turning halfway so they brown evenly. Remove pan from oven and reduce heat to 400º. Cover the lamb with the tomatoes and onions. Add the garlic, herbs, spices plus salt and pepper to your taste. Pour the hot broth or water around the meat. Cover the pan and return to the oven. Roast 1 1/2 hours.
   Uncover, stir and add chickpeas, stirring them into the sauce, and roast another 20-25 minutes. By now the lamb should be close to falling off the shank bone. If not, keep roasting.
Serve garnished with chopped flat leaf parsley and flat bread to mop up the yummy sauce.

Chunky Squash Soup with Chickpeas
 serves 4-6
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced, reserving the seeds*

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 dried red chili, crumbled

2-3 tbsp olive oil

2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped, stalks finely chopped

2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped

6 c organic chicken or vegetable stock

2 cans (13/5-14 oz) chickpeas, drained

1/3 c ground/finely chopped almonds

½ tbsp. fennel seeds

½ tbsp sesame seeds

½ tbsp poppy seeds

     sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons, zest of

a few sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped

harissa paste or hot sauce

extra virgin olive oil

*if you don’t have squash seeds, use ½ cup packaged pumpkin seeds

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the squash, cumin and crumbled chili on to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, mix together and place in the preheated oven. Roast for 45 minutes until the squash is tender.

Once the squash is roasted, heat a large saucepan and pour in 2 tbsp olive oil. Add celery, garlic, parsley stalks and two-thirds of the onion. Cook gently with a lid on until the veggies are soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the roasted squash and let it sweat for a few minutes, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and simmer for 15 minutes more. Meanwhile, in 2 tsp olive oil, toast the squash/pumpkin seeds with the ground almonds, fennel, sesame and poppy seeds until they are nicely browned all over.

Season the soup well with salt and pepper.  If you have a hand-held blender, whiz the for a few seconds so it thickens, but there are still some chunky bits. If you don’t have one, pour about 2/3 of the soup into  a food processor and whiz a few rounds. Pour it back into the pot and blend.  Keep the soup on simmer. Mix together the lemon zest, chopped parsley leaves and mint leaves. Chop the remaining onion until it’s really fine, then mix into the zesty mixture.

To serve, spoon ½ tsp harissa paste or hot sauce into each bowl. Divide the zesty herb mixture between the bowls. Ladle in the soup and stir each bowl once with a spoon to blend everything. Sprinkle on top the toasted seeds and almonds, and finish with a drizzle of really fruity olive oil.  Serve this with toasted pita, naan or lavash and perhaps a cheese platter.
 NOTE: if you use vegetable stock, this soup is vegan and gluten-free.

 Omani Qabooli: Rice pilaf with chicken and chickpeas 
3 cups rice 1 chicken (medium) ½ cup raisin (washed and plumped) ½ cup cooked chickpeas 1 Cinnamon stick

4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed 3 cloves

5 whole black pepper corns

pinch of saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp rose water
¼ cup ghee
Salt to taste

Wash, then soak the rice in salted water.
Clean the chicken and cut into pieces.
Boil chicken in 8 cups of water with the spices and salt, removing froth as it appears. Cook until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, strain broth and return to the heat. Add enough water to have eight cups again and bring to boil. Add the rice and cook it halfway, about 8 minutes. Drain.
In a large skillet coated with the ghee, sauté chickpeas and raisin over medium heat until soft and slightly brown. Remove and keep aside. Place the chicken pieces in the same cooking pot to brown. If it sticks, add a bit more ghee or oil. Add boiled rice. Sprinkle with saffron rose water. Stir in chickpeas and raisins.
Simmer 15 minutes and serve.

Roasted Mexican Spiced Garbanzos
Make sure the chickpeas are completely dry after draining and rinsing them.

1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano 
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drain and rinse chickpeas in a colander. Pat dry.

Toss chickpeas in a medium-sized bowl with olive oil, sea salt, and spices.

Arrange chickpeas on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until crispy. While baking, shake pan or stir chickpeas to avoid burning.
Turkish Baked Hummus
winter into spring
Serves 4- 6
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained well
1/2 c olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp cumin seeds crushed or 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1/3 c thick plain yogurt
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
2 tsp ground Aleppo or chipotle pepper or Hungarian paprika or 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste

Heat oven to 400º.

In a food processor or large mortar and pestle combine the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and cumin into a paste. Beat in the tahini, then the yogurt and make the mixture into a light, smooth purée. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

Spoon the purée into an ovenproof earthenware dish about 7" in diameter, level and smooth the top with the back of the spoon.

In a small frying pan, dry toast the pine nuts on medium heat until they are golden. Lower heat and add the butter/ghee. When it melts add the ground pepper or paprika and quickly stir everything together. Pour this over the hummus.

Bake about 20-25 minutes, until it has risen slightly and the butter has been absorbed.  Serve immediately with a dollop of garlic mint yogurt for every wedge.

Okra Chickpea Bake (from Yotam Ottolenghi)

Serve with crusty bread or rice, to soak up the tasty juices. Serves six.

120ml olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 red chilies, finely chopped
1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
18 oz cooked chickpeas (canned will do), drained
32 oz canned hopped tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
Shaved skin of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper
1 1/3 lbs okra, stems trimmed without exposing the seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 lb feta, broken into pieces
1 tbsp picked flat-leaf parsley, very finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, plus 1½ tbsp juice

Heat the oven to 350º. Pour two tablespoons of oil into a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Add shallots, saute 3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, chilies and cumin seeds. Cook another minute, then add tomato paste and cook a minute, stirring. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, sugar, shaved lemon skin, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Add 1 3/4 c water, stir, reduce heat to low, cover and leave to bubble gently for 20 minutes.
      Meanwhile, put the okra in a large bowl with three tbsp of oil and 1/4 tsp of salt. Put a large saute pan on a high heat, add half the okra and sear for six minutes, turning regularly, until lightly charred all over. Remove from the pan, repeat with the remaining batch and then, once all the okra is seared, add it and the oregano to the chickpea pan. Stir gently, tip into a large 20cm x 30cm gratin dish and dot with the feta, submerging the cheese in the tomato juices. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling, then remove; leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the parsley, lemon zest and juice, the remaining three tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt. Spoon this over the baked okra and serve.