I have yet to meet a bean I do not like.
Except for coffee beans…. but they don’t count. I don’t usually drink my beans. (they are also not technically a legume)
For a while, though, I thought I didn’t like fava beans (also known as broad beans).
For some, they herald the excitement of spring produce, amidst the stress of shelling and shucking the fresh beans. When I found frozen fava beans, I thought I had hit jackpot: someone had done the shelling and shucking for me.
Last year, I made pomegranate-braised cabbage and fava beans but couldn’t get myself around the fava beans. I just didn’t like them.
The beans have been in my freezer since then. Untouched.
However, when I saw Ottolenghi had a recipe for Mixed Beans with Many Spices and Lovage which included fava beans, I decided it was worth checking them out again. Just in case I would like them this time. I also have to keep emptying my freezer. It also called for lovage, a new-to-me herb which my grandmother gifted me from her garden. It looked like a flavourful vegetable curry with an assortment of spring beans. His recipe combined my favourite unshelled beans (snow peas and snap peas) with fava beans smothered in a tomato-cardamom-lovage sauce.
The dish was great. It was my first time using lovage which has that Maggi taste, supposedly similar to celery. The flavours in the tomato sauce were a great spin off of a tomato curry and the beans were nicely cooked. Well, the snap peas and snow peas were nice. The fava beans, well, I still didn’t appreciate.
But then, it dawned on me. There was a creamy bean inside the fava shell. My frozen beans hadn’t been shelled yet! I then dived back into my dish, scooping out all the fava beans and slipped off their shells.
I tasted. Lovely beans. Now I understood how people could enjoy fava beans… they are just a tad labour-intensive!
Oh, what I do for the most pleasing bean…. 😉
Snowpeas, Snap Peas and Fava Beans in a Tomato-Cardamom Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
A pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp agave, or your choice of sweetener
2 tsp tomato paste
14 oz canned diced tomatoes, with juice
200g snow peas, trimmed and sliced in half on an angle
200g snap peas, trimmed and sliced in half on an angle
200g shelled and peeled fava beans (could substitute lima beans or edamame)
2 tbsp fresh lovage (I used 1 tsp dried) – consider substituting tarragon or cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Once hot, add the onion and saute over medium heat for 4 minutes, until softened slightly. Add the garlic, cumin, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cardamom and cloves and stir for 1 minute more, to toast the spices.
2. Add the tomato paste and allow to brown slightly, sauteing for 1 minute. Stir in the agave and tomatoes and mix well.
3. Add in the snow peas, snap peas and shelled fava beans. If using dried lovage, add it now. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat to allow to simmer for 15 minutes, or until cooked. The beans should still have a bit of a bite and not overtly mushy. If using fresh lovage, add it now. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with brown rice or your favourite grain.