Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh, Beans!

Favas and Chickpeas

If you're like me, you love beans. Almost any kind of bean is just really fulfilling to eat, but my two favorites may be favas and chickpeas.

The latter I loved in their salad-bar reality when I was a kid, and of course in hummus.

Think hummus and be flooded with memories of dun-colored grainy casseroles from the hippy era, hippy-dippy potlucks composed of casseroles and salads, long hair, long skirts, free-love, and.... Mary Jane. Homegrown. To be had by the entire ounce. Rainbow thoughts from so long ago.

Well, I was sitting out front at our lovely little Co-op last Saturday, my bags full of farmers' market shopping, just talking to friends and relaxing. Peter was at the cash register, checking out floods of shoppers.

Peter has developed this lovely practice of offering tastings of some of his specialties every shift he works. You walk into the store and see that Peter is there and your eye immediately flips down to see what he's offering today and that might be Tortilla Espagnol, a thick but light and tasty concoction of potato slices cooked with eggs in omelet style; creamy guacamole; various red or green salsas, either as accompaniments or on their own with chips; Mexican cornbread, which is my favorite; or, as on the day I speak of, hummus. It was the best hummus I'd ever had.
I had to take an appetizer to dinner that night, so in between customers I asked Peter for the ingredients. Like any good cook he was pleased to share them, and I jotted them down.


Peter's Hummus
Okay, let's take these by amounts.

Chick Peas: I'd already cooked a bunch and froze them in quart freezer bags. I defrosted one bag, so that would be 3 to 4 cups, or two smaller cans of chick peas. Drain them, but save juices to moisten the mixture.
Tahini: Two or three heaping tablespoons full.
Garlic: 2 or 3 cloves.
Lemon juice: Use the zest from half a lemon and the juice from the whole lemon.
Cumin: I toasted about... 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds and ground them in a spice grinder.
Tamari: A good glug, say, 2 tablespoons.
Salt: To taste.
Olive Oil: Pure, extra-virgin, about 1/4 cup. Plus more over the finished dish.
Roasted dark sesame oil or really good peanut oil: To taste.


Toss the chick peas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and tamari into the food processor and process until ground, with some texture left. Add enough bean juice to make the correct texture, not too dry, then finish with the olive oil and flavored sesame oil.

To serve: Spread the hummus on a platter, surround with chopped parsley, drizzle with more olive oil, strew with halved, sliced red onion and olives. Scoop up with tortilla chips.

Fava beans stand alone in their flavor, tasting... well, so hard to define. Do they have a bit of bitterness? Well, maybe not, but they side very well with broccoli raab. Very interesting taste. You can get them fresh in a few weeks, or months, and I buy those in their thick fuzzy skins, but I usually cook the dried ones.

They might be dried with their skins on, in which case soak them overnight and then peel each bean of its leathery skin.


What I find at the Co-op are ones that have been skinned and then dried.

They take about 45 minutes to cook. They'll break up to some extent, but let them cool in their own water/sauce, spread them on a platter, drizzle with lots of good olive oil, sprinkle with finely chopped garlic, chopped cilantro, and then red pepper flakes. Dip up with tortilla chips, or spread on good, dense, thinly sliced bread.

fava beans

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yum! I always wanted to know what to do with fava beans. I learned to make hummus in Turkey and it was pretty good too.