Fava beans, otherwise known as broad beans, are an ancient staple of the East African and Middle Eastern diet. Dried broad beans have even been found in archaeological excavations here in Israel and in Egypt. Fava beans, known in Arabic, as ful, are often served here as topping to hummus (Yes, have some beans on your beans. Sounds weird but it’s actually delicious). They are high in protein and fiber and low in fat. Because they have a high level of tyramine, they should be avoided by those taking MAOI’s but the rest of you can chow down!
Sometimes ful are brown, such as those in the popular Egyptian dish, ful medames, or flat and large with hard shells. But these fava beans are young, green and shelled. Here in Israel they are sold in the freezer case and look like this. If you do not have broad beans where you live, you could substitute lima beans, but shorten the cooking time.
This recipe, which originally appears in Joan Nathan’s The Foods of Israel Today, calls for an indigenous wild green called milhouliya. Not being entirely sure what that was, I decided to use kale. Ms. Nathan also suggests Swiss chard as an option. Use what you like. This dish is simple but absolutely delicious!
- 800g shelled, green fava beans, fresh or frozen
- 1 bunch of greens such as kale or Swiss chard
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup water or broth
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (cusbara)
- Clean the greens and roughly chop or tear any large pieces.
- Place the fava beans in a pot with garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the beans are tender.
- Add the greens and the cilantro and stir until the greens are wilted but still bright green.
- Serve hot or cold.