Friday, June 09, 2006

Tunisian Fava Beans

If you wrinkle your nose on hearing "fava beans" and think "bitter" or "pasty", this recipe might well change your mind. If you already like fava beans, your gonna love this!

I found this recipe in a book called Mediterranean: Food of the Sun by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow - a remainder book I found for $5.99. This is the first I've tried, but it has lots of excellent looking recipes and many great photographs. After my experience with the Tunisian Fava Beans, I am excited to try many more from this book!

Tunisia is a North African country, one of the three countries of the Maghreb along with Algeria and Morocco. Couscous, cumin, and fiery harissa are characteristic of this region's cuisine. This recipe is refreshing, not hot, spiced with cumin, cilantro, and cool mint. The combination really worked for me and the favas were smooth and buttery.

I had some wonderful fresh fava beans from a friend, grown in her local community garden. They were the best fresh I've had so far ...and big! The key to buttery favas is to remove the bitter outer skin. It's a bit of work, but absolutely worth it. You also don't want to overcook them. The recipe calls for frozen favas, so feel free to use frozen if fresh aren't available.

Tunisian Fava Beans (adapted from Mediterranean: Food of the Sun by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow):
12 oz frozen or fresh fava beans
1 tbsp butter
4-5 scallions (I used 2), thinly sliced
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp olive oil

Simmer the fava beans for 2-4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, remove the outer skin of the favas.

Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the scallion gently for 3-4 minutes. Add the favas, cilantro, mint, cumin, olive oil and salt and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

We enjoyed these with Mediterranean Couscous.


Anonymous Tanna said...

I've never found fresh Fava beans! You are one lucky girl. They look and sound great. Easy to fix as well. Maybe one day I find them.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

I haven't been able to find fresh fava beans in Utah either, and didn't know they came frozen. I've been wanting to try them for the longest time.

11:09 AM  
Blogger chuckles said...

whereas I just saw a whole pile of fresh favas at the local produce mart and was thinking, if only I had a recipe I'd get'em... and now I do, so now I will! thanks!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi all,

Yes, they seem to be everywhere around here! I didn't even know I was lucky on these - thanks for letting me know!

1:18 PM  
Anonymous kymm said...

Yum. When I was growing up my dad was an organic farmer who would plant cover crops on his land in the fallow periods to replace nutrients in the soil. Fava beans were one of the things he planted. They weren't for sale, so we had to eat them, and boy did I hate them. I was talking to my mom about how they're such a trendy item these days and it turns out she never knew to pop the favas out of their skin.

There may have been a reason I hated them. It's past time for me to try them again. This recipe looks great, I'm hoping I run across some at a farmer's market this year.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi kymm,

As a kid, fava beans were a challenge for me too. My mum didn't know to pop them out of the bitter skins either. I remember she used to serve them with ham and parsley sauce. I used to be one of those who wrinkled their nose at fava beans, but they can actually be buttery and almost sweet!

5:15 PM  

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