Friday, October 3, 2008

VeganMoFo #3: Fava Bean and Walnut Stew

We are lucky to have several excellent mediterranean grocery stores in our town; as the product of a Greek father and a British mother who cooks the greatest Greek food around (go figure), I love being surrounded by olives, grape leaves, interesting dried fruits--figs! apricots! dates!--and big, open barrels of every grain and legume you can think of. It's pretty much a vegan paradise, since aside from obvious stuff like, well, meat and cheese, most Middle Eastern food uses lots of vegetables, and is cooked with oil rather than butter. Plus, any cuisine that uses cinnamon in savory dishes in all right in my book.

My hands-down favorite local store is Ed Hyder's: not only is it an endlessly stimulating place to spend an hour just soaking up the atmosphere (and the aromas; they carry over 150 spices in bulk, all displayed in big jars right behind the counter!), it's located in an old redbrick fire station, brass pole and all, which only makes it cooler. The people there are always friendly and helpful, and they sell what is arguably the best hummus you can buy in a store, to say nothing of unusual and exciting wines, many of them organic. Okay, this is starting to sound like an ad, and I swear I'm not related to them or anything, but do check them out when or if you're ever in Worcester, MA., "the Paris of the 80s," okay?

Anyway, I stopped in one day last week looking for interesting flavored oils, of which they have about a million. I needed bulghur, too, and while gazing at all those bins, I spotted some dried, split fava beans. Now, I blush to admit to never having cooked favas before, but we are major consumers of dried beans in my house, so I figured what the hell and bought a pound. In what's becoming a familiar pattern, most of last Saturday was spent staring at my computer writing a paper, and by late afternoon I had the "okay, I want to go chop stuff now" feeling that always follows a worky day. Fortunately, I'd anticipated this and put the beans in to soak that morning, so they were nice and soft and ready to be cooked. But how?? I'd seen a recipe for a stew with beans, raisins, tomatoes and (yesss!) cinnamon somewhere on the web, and decided to wing it and experiment. The results, if I say so myself, were spectacular. No, seriously: really good, especially when ladled over the nice scalliony quinoa I made to go with it. My partner, a condiment-crazed, iconoclastic multiculturalist, ate it with several varieties of Indian pickle (as seen in the photo above), but you don't have to. Unless, of course, you want to, in which case, knock yourself out; a drizzle of tahini would be nice, too!

Fava Bean and Walnut Stew

~ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 3 cups chopped onions
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 cup chopped carrots
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 2 tsp. each: cumin, cinnamon
~ 1 tbsp. dried parsley
~ ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
~ Fresh black pepper to taste
~ 3 cups chopped fresh, ripe tomatoes
~ 4 cups soaked fava beans; about 1.5 cups dried (soaked overnight or while you’re at work)
~ 2 cups strong vegetable stock
~ 4 cups chopped kale
~ 1 cup mixed, dried fruit (soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes or so)
~ 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts (10 minutes on an oiled baking sheet in a 300 degree oven should do it)
~ ½ cup frozen peas

~ In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat; add the onions and sauté about 2 minutes.
~ Add the garlic, carrots, and spices; sauté another 3-5 minutes, adding a splash of water as needed to prevent sticking.
~ Add the tomatoes, broth and fava beans and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 25-30 minutes.
~ Add kale, walnuts, dried fruit and peas; stir to combine and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Serve over bulghur (recipe follows).

Quinoa with Garlic and Scallions

~ 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 4 thinly sliced scallions
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1.5 cups quinoa
~ 3 cups vegetable stock
~ 1/2 tsp. salt
~ Fresh black pepper to taste

~ In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.
~ Add the scallions and garlic; saute for 2-3 minutes.
~ Add the quinoa, salt and pepper, and saute another few minutes, stirring constantly so the quinoa doesn't stick or burn.
~ Pour in the stock, cover and bring to a boil.
~ Turn the heat to low and cook 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.
~ Fluff with a fork and serve.


  1. I love the Mediterranean and it's delicious food, so easy to eat vegan in Greece. If only I could work out a way to live there that won't break the bank.

  2. Fava beans are so good! This stew sounds really good. In a way, it's good that fall is here because it's time for comfort food.