Farmers markets in the springtime make me a little giddy — all that fresh new produce is so beautiful and I almost can’t wait to get my hands on all of it. Fava beans and English peas are two of my favorite vegetables to find at the market in spring; they are so green and fresh, exactly what tastes good to me after a long winter. I know that fava beans can seem just a little intimidating at first because they are big and, admittedly, not all that pretty. They are pretty similar to lima or butter beans, cook up quickly, and have a nice meaty texture. You can throw them into pasta and salads, but I also love them here mixed into a bright green hummus — a springtime snack that’s nutritious and delicious!
Serves 4 – 6
1 cup fresh shelled fava beans
1 cup English peas (fresh or frozen)
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly chopped mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the fava beans in a small saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the beans are tender, adding the peas about halfway through the cooking time. Remove from heat and transfer the beans and peas to a food processor. Add the garlic clove, lemon juice and zest, cumin, and sumac, and pulse until the beans and peas are finely chopped. Add the olive oil in a stream while the processor is running until the mixture comes together in a slightly smooth paste (I like to still be a little chunky texture), and you can add more or less olive oil depending on the texture you like. Stir in the mint and salt and pepper, and dust with a little additional sumac if you like. Serve with pita bread, tortilla chips, or toasted baguette slices. Keeps refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to two days.
Like this recipe? You will probably also love my Persian Mini Meaty Pitas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
• Sumac might not be a familiar spice to everyone, but it’s a great addition to any pantry. It’s commonly found in many Middle Eastern recipes and adds a tangy, lemony note to dishes. You can find it at many Middle Eastern markets or spice stores. It’s also great on meats and fish!
• In the United States and France, it’s common practice to peel the fava beans after shelling them, although many chefs from other countries do not take this step. The beans have a clear membrane around them which can be very tender if the beans are young and fresh, but can also be tough in an older bean. For this particular recipe, you might not need to peel the beans because everything’s getting chopped up in a food processor, but they are also easy to peel: just blanch the beans for about 30 seconds in boiling water, remove them and plunge the beans into iced water, and those membranes will pop right off when you squeeze the bean lightly between your fingers.
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