Fattoush with Broad Beans
The broad bean was the only bean cultivated in Europe before the exploration of the Americas, where most of the other, now common varieties of beans originated. Their culinary popularity is due to their versatility, being a good source of fiber and protein they can be a meat substitute, when combined with a starch they form a nutritious, and inexpensive complex carbohydrate.
However, despite these sterling attributes, beans have a rather dubious reputation. The Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, condemned favas as unfit for his followers to eat, claiming they contained the souls of the dead. Numerous jokes, told mainly by eight year-old boys, involve the ‘hilarious’ condition of flatulence, caused by eating over-cooked beans. Despite their bad press, I love them, especially the broad bean, as they are the tenderest and earliest of the season, and even taste ‘green’, if they aren’t overcooked. They are delicious in Fattoush, a Turkish pita salad with Halloumi (sautéed cheese); freeze a bunch of fresh favas and you can enjoy this salad right into the fall. Bon Appetit!
Fattoush with Halloumi
Level of difficulty: easy
8 ozs. (220g.) Halloumi - available in supermarkets and Middle Eastern stores
2 tbsp. flour
2 medium pita, or ½ loaf of naan (East Indian bread)
2 cups fresh broad beans, shelled and outer skin peeled
1 ½ lemons
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup whole blanched almonds
½ medium Chinese eggplant
½ English cucumber, seeded, cut in ½” slices
¼ red onion, finely sliced
½ medium fennel bulb, trimmed and finely sliced
1 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
4 sprigs fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Steam or blanch beans until just tender (3-4 minutes), plunge in cold water to stop cooking, drain. Zest and juice lemon half, coarsely chop mint leaves and, whisk together with oil to make a dressing, add salt and pepper to taste. Marinate cooked beans in dressing. Lightly brown almonds in a frying pan over medium heat, cool then coarsely chop. Cut whole lemon and eggplant into ½” slices and remove pits from lemon slices.
Spread eggplant and lemons on a generously oiled cooking sheet; brush tops with oil, and broil, turning pieces over to brown both sides. Cool then cut them all into quarters.
Brush both sides of naan or pitas with olive oil and cut into bite -size pieces, spread on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler, turning to brown lightly.
Cut Halloumi into ½ ” thick slices, then cut each slice in half vertically.
Put flour in a baggy, add cheese slices and shake until lightly coated.
Warm 1 tsp. of oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, and fry Halloumi slices, turning once to brown both sides.
Place all ingredients, except cheese, in a large salad bowl, toss to coat evenly with bean dressing; add more oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Distribute Fattoush among salad plates, garnish with cheese.
Recipe and photo contributed by Loretta White, a food writer based-in Chester, Nova Scotia. For more of Loretta's recipes visit Food for Thought at www.southshoreclipper.com
Complementary Wines: Retsina
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