Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fava Bean Croquettes

For the first time in 31 years I had me some fava beans.

I love beans in all forms, but have always avoided this one. Why, you ask?

So...... Fava beans remind of that crazy scary movie, Silence of the Lambs and everytime I think of Anthony Hopkins feasting on fava beans and some random dude's liver with a little chianti, I tend to.. I don't know... lose my appetite.  I've also never been a fan of chianti for the same reason.

Then, one day I was thumbing through one of my new cookbooks, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, and the recipe for fava bean burgers caught my eye.  Packed with potato, spinach, fava beans, some spices and a little bit of egg and breadcrumb, these sounded like something I could eat without having flashbacks of scary movies from my childhood.

I had a bit of difficulty finding fava beans, since they are more of a springtime crop, but ended up scoring some frozen ones at the Asian market. They were also skinned which made the prep work alot less labor intensive.

Turns out they weren't so scary afterall. They actually tasted similar to edamame but had a creamier texture. In fact, if you have a difficult time finding favas, I think edamame would be a great substitution.

Lastly, Ottelenghi named these "burgers" in his cookbook.  They have a pretty creamy texture and wouldn't really work as a burger patty, so I called 'em croquettes instead.  I whipped up a quick lemon tahini sauce to accompany the croquettes, served alongside a simple arugula salad.  You could also serve them with a little sour cream, greek yogurt or a couple of lemon wedges to keep it simple.

Fava Bean Burgers  (Serves 4)

3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
3/4 t. coriander seeds
3/4 t. fennel seeds
1/2 lb. (about 6 cups) spinach
3 T. olive oil
1 lb. (about 3 cups) shelled fava beans (fresh or frozen)
3/4 lb. potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
1/2 fresh green chile, seeded and finely diced (I used a whole, seeded jalapeno)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 t. turmeric
salt and pepper
3 T. chopped cilantro
6 T. dried breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 c. sunflower (or other neutral oil)

Put the whole seeds in a pan and dry roast over high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until they start releasing their aromas. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestke and set aside (I used a spice grinder)
Wilt the spinach in a hot pan with 1 T. of the olive oil. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any liquid, then chop roughly and set aside.
Blanch the fava beans in boiling water for about a minute, drain and refresh under cold water under cold water. When cool enough to handle remove and discard the skins.
Cook potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and tip into a large mixing bowl. Immediately add the fava beans, crushed seeds, chile, garlic, turmeric, remaining 2 T. olive oil and some salt and pepper. Ise a potato masher to mash it all up roughly; don't worry if some beans are not totally crushed. Next, add the wilted spinach, chopped cilantro and breadcrumbs. Lastly, mix in the egg.
Wet your hands and shape the mix into fat patties that are roughly 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inches thick. Chill them for at least 1/2 hour.
To cook, heat up the sunflower oil and fry the burgers on high heat for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Serve hot with lemon wedges or your favorite condiment or dipping sauce.

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