Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mojito beans?

Ah, green beans and corn on the cob -- the quintessential summer foods of those places where I come from.  The growing season in MN and WI is certainly short, but when it's happening, the tomatoes, corn, green beans, melons, and other veggies it produces are actually superior to what we get in CA.  Especially corn and apples.  My mom has always said that her mom always said that it was the harsh early frosts that made apples what they were, and I'm inclined to believe it, but the similar verdict about sweet corn is based solely on my own experience.  Corn on the cob here is just not as interesting as it is in MN/IA/WI/IL.  But, it's still good, especially when paired with an interesting beer and the bean salad which follows...

Jon's was selling large bags of dried fava beans.  So, I got some.  Man, what a lot of work!  I did the usual soaking and simmering, but then got to wondering if the skins were too thick to be happily digested.  I know that when you have fresh fava beans you're supposed to remove the skins, but these were small beans that had already been soaked for 12 hours and simmered for 1.  Really?

Facebook to the rescue.  I posted on the page of my friend Myer, who knows a lot about food.  Our friend KSW beat him to the response, suggesting that "your belly will thank you if you [remove the skins]."  But Myer then wrote, "well, i'm a goat, but i don't think i've ever had a problem with the skins..."  So the mystery continues.  Still, better safe than sorry.  I shucked every single bean out of the 2 cups of beans.  Oog.  So much work.


I used the beans in a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, only I used fresh green beans instead of asparagus.  The beans and, er, beans make a great combo, but the mint in this recipe was a bit too intense for me: what with the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and fresh mint, I felt like I was eating a mojito--just one that was full of beans.  This recipe definitely needs less mint, and more salt.  And maybe use orange instead of lemon.  Or balsamic vinegar, even.

Fava Bean and Mint Salad with Green Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 c dried fava beans, soaked and simmered (or fresh), with skins removed
1 c fresh mint leaves, chopped (use 1/2 c instead)
2 TB olive oil
2 tsp [lemon or] orange juice or balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
grated [lemon or] orange zest (optional)

1) Steam green beans and then transfer to ice water to stop cooking.  When cold, drain.
2) Combine green beans, fava beans, and mint in a large bowl.  Combine olive oil, lemon/orange juice, and sugar separately before adding to vegetables and tossing to coat evenly.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with citrus zest.  Serves about 4.

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