Sephardic Fresh Fava Beans with Onions and Mint

Unlike green/string beans, fava beans are more familiar to most in their dried form. They are also called broad beans for a reason, as they are substantially broader and bigger than green beans. Another difference between the two is that, unlike green beans, that can be found in their fresh form year round, fava beans’ season is fairly short, and happens exactly now, until around mid-May. If you want to enjoy this unique type of beans, look for them in vegetable stores and markets that specialize in Mediterranean ingredients.
The young and tender fava beans have a very different texture and flavor than fresh green beans, and are a seasonal delight. They can be cooked whole, shells included. However, as the very young beans are not easy to find, you can chose to do what I’ve done here, and use only part of the shells, to still get their unique flavor.
Since their season is around Passover, they are part of the Seder dinner in many Sephardic households, either on their own, as shown here, cooked with fresh artichokes, or with lamb or beef. This light and fresh dish is typical of the way vegetables are cooked in the Sephardic cuisine, where the vegetables flavors are not masked by too many spices. The dish, called “Avas Frescas” (i.e. fresh beans) in Ladino, can be served warm, as a side dish, or cold, as part of a “Meze” appetizer table. Try it and enjoy.

Notes:
* Shelling the beans, and cleaning the shells, can cause your finger to discolor. Rubbing them with some fresh lemon will help in removing the stains.
* If you can’t find fresh fava beans, frozen ones can be used instead. Just bear in mind that, as they do not  contain the shells, the dish will be a bit different.
* For more information about Sephardic cuisine, click HERE. For more Sephardic recipes, click HERE.

Makes: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lbs (450 grams) fresh fava beans (see notes)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, small diced
1½ cups water
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
A handful of fresh mint leaves

1. To string the beans: hold one tip of the pod, and twist it towards the seam, pulling away the tough fiber, then remove the tip on the other side of the bean. Cut the small pods with the beans in, or shell the larger ones and cut the shell into large chunks.

2. In a medium pot, over medium-high heat, lightly sauté the onion, just until it’s soft and translucent. Add the water, lemon juice, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Add the cleaned beans and shells, and the mint, and bring to a boil.

3. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover the pot and cook for another 10 minutes, until the beans and shells are tender. Serve warm or cold.

 

Herbs De Provence Pork Tenderloin with Maple Roasted Red Cabbage

I usually pair pork tenderloin with fruit, but this time, as I also had a nice red cabbage head,  I’ve decided to go in a different direction. I roasted the cabbage with only salt and pepper, then poured a bit of maple syrup and red wine vinegar over it, when it came out of the oven. It was delicious. Continue reading

Egg Noodles Bake with Mushrooms and Cheeses

This tasty and aromatic bake is the easiest way to serve pasta to a large party. It is based on the  East-European Jewish “Kugel” dish, that is more known in its sweet version. Continue reading

Spiced Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Cider

After my successful experiment with cooking chicken in cider and apples (recipe can be found HERE), I decided to use these ingredients to prepare pork tenderloin (also known as pork fillet). Continue reading

Fresh White Corn Polenta with Pan Fried Shrimps and Roasted Vegetables

Fresh corn season is here and, once again, I’m using it in all kinds of dishes. One of my favorite and easiest recipes using fresh corn is to cook it “polenta” style. Unlike the time consuming traditional polenta, which is made with dried cornmeal, this quick cooking version is lighter and so perfect for summer. Continue reading

Five Marinated Salads

When we think about the term “salad”, we usually think about a dish that is prepared soon before serving and and is eaten as fresh as can be. However, it’s always good to remember that not all salads were created equal, and that many of them taste even better after marinating for a few hours, or even days. Continue reading

Starchless Cauliflower, Goat Cheese and Almonds Bake

With a request to develop a “vegetarian, starchless bake”, the decision to use cauliflower as the main ingredient was quite obvious, as this vegetable’s texture when cooked is as close to that of potatoes. Continue reading

A Few More Dishes with Tarragon Cashew Pesto

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for tarragon-cashew pesto (click HERE for the recipe), which is one of my favorites. I then mentioned that I use the pesto in numerous dishes. In the recipes here, you can find a few of these free-style dishes. Hopefully they will inspire you to use this, or any other type of pesto, in different, tasty ways. Try them and enjoy. Continue reading

Crispy Asparagus with Saffron-Garlic Mayonnaise

Fresh asparagus is always a delight, and when I saw this beautiful bunch at the store, I immediately grabbed it. Continue reading

Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms

Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms Ronit PensoIsraeli couscous is actually a type of toasted pasta, but the best way to cook it is to treat it like rice, with measured amount of water. This way of cooking will result al-dente and separated grains. Continue reading

Caponata

Caponata Ronit Penso

When I’ve found some ripe tomatoes, eggplants and peppers at the farm stand, I’ve decided it’s time to prepare a nice batch of Caponata – a tasty sweet and sour Sicilian eggplant dish.
Caponata is wonderful as a side dish, especially with fish and seafood, but also with chicken and other meats. It is also wonderful as a topping for Crostini, and can also be served as a dip, with crackers or toasted points. Continue reading