Available for only a short season, green favas are considered a delicacy in the Middle East.
Springtime in the market (shuk), and lots of prime greens have made their once-yearly appearance. Fresh green peas and artichokes, which I love to eat stuffed. Fresh green garlic to hang up and dry for the year. And fresh green fava beans, meaty, yet far more delicately flavored than the dried version.
Green favas may be cooked with herbs and spices, added to meat, mashed, puréed, or stewed. But I’m most fond of eating fresh favas in simple dishes, so that their green flavor shines. Here is such a recipe – Iranian favas with rice and yogurt, from the fabulous cookbook author Claudia Roden.
It’s true that preparing the beans is a bit of a process. They must be removed from their pods and then cooked enough to remove the stiff outer skin off each bean. If you’re lucky enough to find the fava beans peeled away from their pods in the market, half your work is done.
I choose a quiet time in the kitchen to do the manual work of peeling the skins off – which is necessary, because it’s a little bitter and tough. Listening to music and thinking my thoughts, peeling favas is a meditative task, an excuse to be quietly by myself and let the busy world go by for a while.
This is how you do it. Once the beans are out of their pods, boil plenty of water in a pan and add the beans. Cook for no more than three minutes and then transfer to a bowl of cold water with a slotted spoon – or drain in a colander and put in cold water. The flexible grey skin must be slit open with a small, sharp knife (or your nail) and then you can pop the bean out.
Of course you can bypass the procedure by using frozen beans, but that won’t capture the light flavor of fresh.
Fava Beans with Rice and Yogurt Recipe
1¼ cups long grain rice
4-5 tablespoons mild olive oil
Bunch of dill or mint, finely chopped
White pepper to taste
14 ounces shelled fava beans, fresh or frozen
2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pour the rice into plenty of boiling water. Boil hard for about 14 minutes, until it is almost but not entirely tender.
Drain and put back into the pan.
Stir in 3 tablespoons of the oil, the herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Put the lid on and leave the pan on very low heat for the rice to steam for about 15 minutes, or until tender.
Boil the fava beans in lightly salted water for a few minutes, until tender, then drain. Stir gently into the rice with the remaining oil.
Serve hot or cold with the yogurt, beaten with crushed garlic and a little salt. Serve the yogurt separately or spoon it over the rice and favas.
More seasonal Middle Eastern Recipes from Green Prophet: