Yeah its broad bean time again! Vicia faba, the broad or fava bean (broad beans as most Anglophiles know them)is an ancient staple of the Portuguese and many Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. For use in the traditional recipes of these cuisines the bean is allowed to develop fully and is then dried, resulting in more nutritious dishes than in the European manner, where the beans are more frequently eaten green and immature.Ground into a flour known as shiro it also plays a central role in the Ethiopian culinary tradition.
While I adore fresh fava beans, I find it hard to justify the time commitment and labour intensity they require.
Mind you, I'm not against making an effort in the interest of great flavour. But unlike fresh pea pods, which are a delight to pop, these particular pods can be tiresome to rip open, and between the blanching and the peeling that follow, I'm frazzled before I've even started to cook the actual dish.But how many people realise that broad beans are good not only eaten whole but also when mashed and made into a dough? This recipe is a little labour intensive but the flavour reward is worth the effort.These little gems are delicious served hot or cold, and even better, they can be made in advance and reheated in the oven.
Croquetes de fava
300g (11oz) fresh favas (broad beans) podded
250g (9oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon dried yeast,diluted in 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
olive oil for deep-frying
salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE FILLING
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
3 tablespoons fresh chives,finely chopped
a pinch of nutmeg
Blanch the beans in a large pan of boiling water for 1 minute then drain well and cool in cold water.Peel off the skins.Place the beans in a food processor and whizz until mushy.Transfer to a large bowl,add the eggs,flour,butter,yeast mixture, some salt and pepper and mix well with your hands until you obtain a smooth dough.Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes until slightly risen.
Meanwhile make the filling.Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper.
Shape the dough into balls the size of golf balls.On a lightly floured work surface,roll out each ball of dough into an oval shape about 3mm(1/8inch)thick.Plave a tablespoon of the filling on it and roll it,pinching the edges together to close.
Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan or a deep-fat fryer.Deep fry the croquetes,a few at a time,for 2-3 minutes,ontil golden brown.With a sharp knife,cut in half on the diagonal.Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot or cold.