I am a compulsive reader. Sometimes this drives Michel crazy (maybe all the time). I am compelled to read everything that passes in front of my eyes including license plates, billboards, bus advertisements, restaurant menus, all manner of signs, but most of all: lists. It doesn’t matter what kind of list but names in long rows are the most irresistible to me—attendance reports, film credits, charitable donors, delinquent taxpayers, members of organizations—I’m reading whatever it is. Fortunately, I’m a fast reader.
My fascination with names is not limited to people, which brings me to the subject of beans. I mentioned in a previous post that Michel enjoys shopping for exotic ingredients in local food markets like Choi’s and Patel Brothers, but sometimes he finds interesting things at good old Paul’s Fruit Market as well. Just as he always looks for fresh sardines at Whole Foods, Michel always looks for fresh fava beans at Paul’s. No luck lately but he recently spied some fresh red-and-white speckled ones labeled “shell out beans.” It only took a few mouse clicks to discover that those beans are also called cranberry beans or Roman beans or, more specifically, borlotti beans. If you’re counting, that’s one bean with four names.
Now we get to the duo of Fava and Borlotti. Fava beans have only one alias: broad beans. Michel remembers eating those as a young boy in
Holland. His mother would boil them--probably for too
long. Dried or fresh, fava beans have a
nice creamy character that can withstand long cooking times. So try this recipe on a leisurely day when
you have time to (occasionally) tend to a two-hour stew. Watch a movie, read a nice book, and take it
easy while your beans are simmering in the pot.
Fava and Borlotti Bean Stew
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup dried baby fava beans--overnight soaking optional
- 1 cup fresh borlotti/cranberry beans (We found them canned at Whole Foods.)
- 1½ cartons vegetable broth
- ½ an onion, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 each red, yellow, green bell peppers chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- a few grinds of black pepper
|Canned Borlotti Beans|
In your favorite stock pot:
- Heat the olive oil.
- Add garlic, onion, bell peppers, tarragon, oregano, bay leaves, pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
- Cook over medium heat until onion becomes translucent.
- Add fava beans and enough vegetable broth to cover.
- Cover the pot and cook fava beans over low heat for 60-90 minutes. If you soaked the beans, they will cook in an hour. If you didn’t soak the beans, you’ll have time to watch an episode of your favorite sitcom while you wait out the remaining 30 minutes.
- Keep an eye on the fava beans as they cook to make sure there is enough broth in the pot.
- After fava beans have cooked, add fresh borlotti/cranberry beans.
- Allow borlotti beans to cook for 60 minutes. Note: Canned borlotti beans will require no actual cooking time. They only need to be heated. But—fresh is always nicer if you can find them.
- Let your bean stew “cook down” to thicken uncovered for the final 15-20 minutes. Monitor the liquid level so the mixture doesn’t stick or burn on the bottom.
- Eat everything but the bay leaves.