I know, the mere mention of fava beans conjurs up images of Hannibal Lecter’s nostalgic recollection of chowing down a census taker’s liver with a side of fava beans and washing him down with a nice glass of chianti. Silence of the Lambs is singlehandedly responsible for putting people off fava beans. For years after that movie ran in theaters, fava beans have not been able to shrug off the cannibal association and that’s a pity. Stores rarely carried it. And when they did, they were sometimes forced to provide barf bags along side plastic baggies. Whole Foods carried it for a while in their frozen veggie section. Then they too discontinued it. It is a much malaigned bean.
I was at the store the other day, and came across a bonanza. Fava beans at $.99 /lb. It was a steal.Some of the pods were nearly a foot long and bumpy. Bumpy is good. it just means they’re full of beans. I went nuts, filling two bags; roughly three pounds worth. Not very many people I know get giddy and excited at the sight of a bin full of fresh fava beans. Alas, I am in the minority. But after you’ve read my blog and tried my recipe, you will become a convert.
I was so happy filling my bags that I hadn’t noticed a small crowd gather around me. They approached from the dry foods aisle, the frozen section, a few wandered over from meat counter. I looked up guiltily, thinking perhaps I was being too greedy in taking so many fava beans for myself. This was great. I was not alone. There were others.
“Fava Beans and Chianti,” one fella guffawed.
See, what did I tell ya? It’s hard to lose a bad rep once you get one.
“They’re the best,” I said enthusiastically. “Nutty,
creamy, just bliss in a sauce of spicy curry.”
The way they all looked at me, you’d think I was inviting them into the Dark Side. To diffuse the tension, I rattled off a quick recipe.
For the equivalent of one cup of peeled beans
Remove beans from pod. Peel the thick outer skin on the beans to reveal shiny, pale green beans. Rinse in warm water and set aside.
You will need:
Half an onion finely chopped.
One tomato pureed (or canned crushed tomato)
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Quarter cup lite coconut milk (canned)
One teaspoon curry powder
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Add two Tbsp canola oil to a deep non stick pan. Fry the onions until they are soft and slightly caramalized. Toss in the pinch of cinnamon powder. Fry on low heat for less than a minute. The chopped tomatoes go in next. Cook until the oil separates and rises to the top. Add the curry powder and fry the masala (curryspeak for thick sauce) for another minute. Add the salt and fava beans. Cook covered for a minute. Remove lid and pour in the coconut milk. Cook covered for another minute or two. Check for salt. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with white rice. Lose the Chianti. Enjoy.
Curry can be uncomplicated and does not have to pack too much heat for it to be tasty and even kid-friendly. Curry takes a bad rap for being greasy and in-your-face spicy. True, some store-bought curry powders are pungent and the smells can sometimes linger on your clothes for hours. So leave a window open when you cook curry and light a scented candle afterward. If you prefer, make your own curry powder. Recipe for Easy Do-It-Yourself-Curry Powder in my next post.