The family of beans is a vast one, providing something for every occasion and cuisine - red add body to chilis, firmer black are tossed into salads with salsas, white will make for a rustic but irresistible supper when paired with garlic, lemon and greens, then, there is the endlessly versatile chickpea, not to forget the dissimilar yet still related herald of summer, French bean. Of all those, none is such a treat as young broad beans are.
The pleasure of a bowlful of those might have its source in how much effort must be put into its preparation. Here in Italy, they are sold still in their pods. Ten minutes with a small knife should be enough to go through half a kilo, leaving you with around 200 grams of beans and a high pile of scraps, which might make you question the sensibility of eating this particular plant, much like when preparing artichokes. Yet the procedure is pleasently meditative, so there are some advantages.
They will need just a couple of minutes in a rolling boil to become tender. Drain them and shock in ice water to retain their color. Now, decision time: to peel, or keep them as they are? To me, there is no point in peeling younger specimens, which are available now, until mid-June. The skins are perfectly edible, but note that as the beans grow bigger and older, bitterness apears, and there is more resistance to teeth, so it's worth to spend some extra time and peel the beans. Keeping the skins has another minus, as the outcome is of rather greyish color, as can be seen on the photos.
Whatever you choose to do, the last step is very simple. All that favas need at this point is a tablespoon of olive oil and a clove of garlic in the pan, then a generous sprinkling of green, fresh-tasting herbs, such as parsley or mint, or a combination of both. Some freckles of pepper are a must, too. Now, if you want to feed one, two at most, you can eat the beans as is. But if there is more people to feed, toss with new potatoes, or scoop the herbed jewels onto toasted slices of bread to make pre-summer bruschettas.
I first thought about serving favas and hummus on the same plate while curating delikatessen's Instagram account over a month back. They are an Amsterdam-based menswear-only company, though their shirts look so good I want to wear them myself. Their current collection is inspired by fava beans - their timelessness (those plants have been feeding mankind for approximately eight thousand years!!!), their adaptability, and the Middle Eastern conotations they bring to mind. So, hummus, flatbreads and favas it is - a brilliant combination which I wish hadn't taken me so long to prepare.
Hummus, Herbed Broad Beans, Flatbreads
serves two, with extra hummus (but that's always a good thing, right?)
for the flatbreads:
120gr whole wheat flour (scant 1 cup)
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
120ml (roughly 1/2 cup)
2 tbsp olive oil
for the hummus:
500gr chickpeas, cooked and drained
75gr tahini (5 tbsp)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice-cold water
optionally: 1 - 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
for the herbed broad beans:
500gr beans in pods,
or 200gr podded
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
salt, pepper, lemon juice
Begin by making the flatbreads. Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add water (warm but not hot to touch) and olive oil, mix with a spoon, then knead on floured surface for 5-7 minutes until elastic and smooth, adding more water or more flour as necessary. Pop back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel or clean plastic foil, set asite to a warm spot for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs until doubled in size.
Then, make the hummus. Place all the ingredients, except for the water, either in your standing blender or in the tall container that comes with immersion blenders. Run the blender until the paste is smooth, helping yourself with a spatula if the ingredients get stuck. 2 tbsp at a time, add water until you get a creamy, pale hummus. Transfer to a jar, keep in fridge - hummus will stay good for 5 days, but you'll probably eat it before then.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add beans and cook for 3-6 minutes, depending on size. Taste one seed before draining. Rinse with cold water until cold to touch, or shock in ice bath. Set aside.
Place a grilling pan on high heat. Divide the dough into 6 equally-sized balls, roll out to 4mm thick flatbreads, then grill individually about 2 mins per side, until charred and bubbled on both. Keep ready flatbreads wrapped in aluminium. They can be eaten within 2 days - reheat on the pan with a gentle sprinkling of water.
To finish, heat up the olive oil in a medium pan, add beans and garlic, cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add herbs, cook for another 2 minutes, turn the heat off, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
To serve, spread 4 tbsp of hummus on a plate, top with half of the beans and tuck in torn flatbreads.