Is there anything better than a farmer’s market in the summer? The season’s bounty in all shapes and colours, in baskets and in piles, still smelling of the dirt from whence they came, beautiful in their imperfection… it’s a complete sensory experience that leaves me feeling rejuvenated, peaceful, and inspired. I could spend hours in a grocery store given the chance (and adequate funds), but being at a farmer’s market removes one step in the process of bringing food from farm to table, and nothing compares. No worries about buying genetically modified, corporate-sponsored frankenfoods here. My brief ode to vegetables aside, we’re here to talk about fava beans! My Yia Yia used to make this amazing stew for me, and it was always such a treat because it only came around once a year. It’s amazing in its simplicity, and the very minimal effort it requires belies the fact of its savoury, yet rustic, perfection. Cypriot cuisine is peasant food, and few things make my tummy happier. I had always refrained from making this myself because I was intimidated by fresh beans, but getting them out of their pods is so quick and easy, I’m ashamed that I didn’t do it sooner. And the reduced cooking time compared to using dried beans – amazing! Take advantage of everything summer has to offer while you can. The easiest way to get the beans out of the pod is to just grab the tip and pull down. Most of the time it will tear down like a zipper, and then opening the pod is no problem. Sometimes this doesn’t work, so I just squeeze in the middle over a bowl, and out they pop! The whole process shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes – I did it while watching television.
Fava Bean Stew (serves 2)
~ Gluten free, grain-free, vegan ~
This dish makes for a great light lunch or a side to a larger meal. It’s typically eaten with some crusty bread, so if you can find some that’s gluten free, (not always easy) definitely do them together!
- 2-3 lbs. fresh fava beans, unhulled
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1-1.5 cups no salt added vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Remove beans from their pods and set aside.
- In a small pot, head oil over medium-low heat.
- Add leeks and garlic and sauté until soft, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the beans, vegetable stock, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot. The stock should just cover the beans.
- Bring the stock to a boil and then simmer over low heat, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the beans are tender. You should be able to mash them easily with a spoon. Remove the bay leaf.
- Using a potato masher or the back of your spoon, crush about half the beans and stir. The mushed beans will become part of the sauce and make everything nice and creamy, while the whole beans add texture.
- Season with salt and pepper, and serve.