spring fava beans with pesto & brown rice spirals

every time i think about what to cook in the spring time (yipee! loooonger days, warmer days, brighter days, and…more fresh local produce days) i seem to think greeeen food! right now there’s nothing that makes my mouth water more than minimally processed fresh green produce in our meals. that’s why when i came across the beautifully glistening fava (broad) beans at the market yesterday i couldn’t wait to add them to our dinner menu. these beans were particularly tender, so i decided to boil the larger ones in their skins as an appetizer served with lime and angelica seeds, and use the smaller ones in a quick and easy brown rice pasta dressed with home made lemony pesto (the basil is looking/tasting amazing at the moment). the trick to double peeling these beans (relatively) easily is to remove them from the outer skin (or pod) and quickly boil them in water for just a few quick minutes (5-7) before popping them out of their inner skins by pressing lightly on one end. i’m not sure about you, but i find these types of tasks oddly relaxing and get through them rather quickly (alternately you can purchase double peeled frozen fava beans at most middle eastern markets). having tasted (and consumed way more than intended) the dish last night, i urge you to make some before the season is over-it will be sure to please your taste buds! Continue reading
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{mock} baghali polow: delicious basmati {brown} rice with fava beans and dill

there is no doubt that “baghali polow” is one of the most popular persian dishes. the reason is not hard to understand…fluffy basmati rice layered with soft and tender (double peeled) fava beans, fresh garlic (that’s how it’s done in my family) and lots of freshly chopped dill. it is often served with saffron braised lamb or veal shanks or chicken, and it always satisfies. problem is, you eat too much of it-and that’s why i’ve recently come up with an adapted version with brown rice that tastes just as good, and is possibly better for you. for this recipe you will need a good amount of double peeled fava beans (found in the frozen section of persian markets if you have one near you). you can replace the fava beans with cooked black eyed peas (loobia cheshm boloboli) or lima beans for an equally delicious meal. last night we ate it with a vegetarian ceviche-it was a great combination.

ingredients for 2-3 servings (you can double or triple it):

  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, *cooked (or long grain basmati rice for original version)
  • 2 cups double peeled fava beans
  • 1 large or 2 small (about 1 cup chopped) bunches fresh dill, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground saffron (or a few strands seeped in hot water)
  • 2-3 tsp persian rice “advieh” (in equal parts toasted cumin seeds, crushed rose buds, cinnamon)
  • 3 tbs safflower oil (or your vegetable oil of choice)

* to cook the brown rice: rinse the rice several times in cold water, then add to a pot with 2 cups of lightly salted water (ratio of 1 cup of rice for 2 cups of water), bring to a boil, let the water reduce on medium/high temperature-this takes about 15-20 minutes. when most of the water is gone, bring the heat to low and cover the pot, cook for another 20 minutes or so.

1. heat 2 tbs oil in a heavy (preferably non stick) pot, add 1/2 of the saffron with 1-2 tsp water, and give the pot a shake to distribute evenly. add a thin layer of cooked brown rice, top with a layer of (uncooked) fava beans and then dill, and sprinkle with some “advieh” and a small amount of sea salt-keep layering this way while carefully combining everything with a spatula or you hands until you’ve created a “dome” and finished all the ingredients.
{for the original version with white rice the uncooked rice is boiled in several cups of salted water for about 5-6 minutes, then the fava beans and dill are added to the pot-everything boils together (and gets evenly combined with a careful folding) for a minute before being drained. the rice mixture is then steamed much like in these recipe for “adas polow”  or barberry rice- zereshk polow}

2. sprinkle the “dome” with the remaining saffron, pour 1 tbs oil and 2-3 tbs of water over the top (using a slotted spoon or squirt bottle to evenly distribute).

3. cover the pot with a clean dish towel or paper towel and then the lid (tightly so that the steam does not get out) and cook on high for about 5-7 minutes (stay close by) before reducing the heat to med/low and allowing the rice to steam and cook for about 45 minutes.
4. serve the rice in a platter, then carefully remove the “tahdeeg” or crispy rice (my favorite part) from the bottom of the pot (serve on a separate dish).
“tah deeg” or crispy rice
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