When I began my gluten free diet, I started exploring food sources I hadn't used before, one of those was beans. There was a time when the only beans I cooked were in a pot of chili. Now I use them for soups, stews, salsas, salads, dips, and more! I like beans for several reasons; they are high in fiber and minerals, a great substitute for meat in a dish, provide great texture in dishes, they are really versatile and work well with many different flavor palates, not to mention that they are inexpensive!
I've got to admit that fava beans are one of the beans that I've had the least experience cooking with. While researching about them the other day I ran across a year old article on NPR.com: Fava Beans: A little Spring on your Plate the article talks about how fava beans (also called broad beans) are perhaps the oldest cultivated bean but is just beginning to become popular in the U.S. One reason that they haven't really caught on here may be the time-intensiveness of preparing them. For this reason I suggest buying shelled and split fava beans. There is nothing quite so tedious as shelling beans. The one exception to this would be if you can procure some fresh beans, then the shelling will be worth the effort.
The very first time I cooked fava beans was when I found them at the incredible International Farmer's Market in Decatur, GA. I brought them home and wasn't sure what to do with them. I thought of making falafel, but it seemed too involved at the time. Thinking of this bean being used in Sicilian kitchens inspired this recipe, which is basically cooking them in a tomato sauce until they become so soft, that they absorb all of the rich tomato flavors.
Sicilian Style Fava Beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion- diced
4 cloves if garlic- minced
1 stalk of celery- diced
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 cups (before soaking) split and shelled dried fava beans, pre-soaked
1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp sugar
2 cups beef stock (or chicken stock)
2 cups water
Salt to taste
• Heat a large sauce pan to medium-high, add the olive oil
• Saute the onion for a minute or two until it becomes translucent
• Stir in the garlic and celery, cook for another minute
• Add the basil, fennel seed, bay leaf, black pepper and crushed red pepper (optional), stir all together
• Mix in the pre-soaked beans, stir all together well
• Stir in the diced tomatoes red wine and sugar
• Add the beef stock and water, stir and bring to a boil-uncovered
• Once boiling reduce to simmer and cook uncovered for @ 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
• If all of the water evaporates add a bit more until done cooking
• The beans are done once they are no longer crunchy, but soft.
• Serve over rice or pasta and a main course, or as a side dish. Enjoy!