Fava bean puree
Dried fava beans are one of the oldest food staples in the Mediterranean. When peeled and cooked, these Army-green colored beans become luscious and smooth, delicate in flavor with a hint of piney resin. This soupy, earthy dip is as popular in North Africa as hummus is in the Middle East, and traditionally was cooked overnight by the Berbers of North Africa in a clay pot over coals. You can prepare the dip in advance, then reheat until warm. In Morocco, it is served spread out on a platter, decorated with dribbles of olive oil, a sprinkling of freshly ground cumin seed, and lines of sweet paprika and cayenne. Homemade bread, grilled sardines and fresh oily black olives are often served with it. Dried favas require an overnight soak.
1 ½ cups split dried fava beans
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin, plus additional for garnish
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus additional for garnish (optional)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sweet paprika for garnish
Rinse the fava beans and combine with 3 cups of water in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain the fava beans and, if using unpeeled beans, remove the peels with your fingers or a paring knife. If peels are difficult to remove, cook the beans in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain, cool, and peel. You should have about 2 ¼ cups of peeled fava beans.
Combine the peeled fava beans with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the fava beans are soft and beginning to crumble -about 25 – 30 minutes. Drain and add beans to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
Add the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper to the food processor. Process until smooth and adjust the seasonings as needed. The mixture will appear soupy at first, but don’t be alarmed as it will thicken as it cools. If it is too thick, add water.
Serve the puree on a warm shallow platter. Drizzle with olive oil, and crisscross with thin lines of ground cumin and dot with the paprika and cayenne.
Serve with pita chips, homemade breads and olives if you have them.
Pressure cooker alternative:
Add the drained and peeled fava beans and 4 cups water to a pressure cooker. Seal the top and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the temperature to maintain the pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow the pressure to naturally release – for about 10 minutes. Drain and proceed with the recipe.