Throughout history meaning given to fava beans, one of the oldest cultivated plants on earth, ranged from magic to evil. In ancient Egypt there were believed to have supernatural powers. They were presented as a symbolic offering to the Gods of the Nile and not everybody was accorded the privilege of eating fava beans. In fact some Egyptians were even forbidden from looking at them. Beans were the food of the privileged. There is a saying “Beans have satisfied even the Pharaohs,” and great quantities of beans have been found in the tombs of Pharaohs to feed them in the afterlife. Egyptian falafel is the most famous fava bean dish.
In ancient Mediterranean region it was noted that people who lived in the area where fava beans were cultivated tended to have lower incidence of malaria. Magic Beans!!! It was discovered later that fava beans are magical indeed as they contain chemical compounds similar to quinine-based medications used to treat malaria. People who eat fava beans on a regular basis create hostile environment within their body for malaria.
Another reason for fava beans’ magical status is their hardiness. According to the old Sicilian legend, one rainless season, all the crops failed except fava beans. They were the only thing that kept people from starvation that year. Ever since then Sicilians place fava beans on the altar on St. Joseph’s Day in March and bake fava bean cakes in fall when fava beans are sown.
Reputation of fava beans suffered considerably when it was discovered that for certain individuals they can be deadly. Today this disorder has a name Favism. It’s a hereditary disease that means the absence of G6PD, an enzyme needed to break down a substance (peptide glutathione) found in fava beans. Another category of people who need to stay away from fava beans are people who take a certain type of medication, MAOIs taken for depression and personality disorders.
Fava beans were slow to gain scientific adulation. But if you look at nutritional content you will discover that fava beans are indeed magical. Fava beans contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, A, C, K and another important B vitamin folate. Just a mere cup of cooked beans provides 44% of recommended daily allowance of folate. But that’s not all. Let’s move to minerals. Fava beans are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper manganese, selenium. One cup of cooked fava beans has only 187 calories, but a whooping 13 g of protein, 20.4 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, and 248 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. Are you still reading this? Why?! Run to the store and buy fava beans!
If you are not sure how to cook them, read my guide here. The main thing to know about cooking beans is that they need to be soaked overnight. Soaking helps get rid of a oligosaccharides – short chains of sugar molecules that lead to flatulence. If you are not used to beans start slow by eating a small portion of beans once a week. Just throw a few beans into this salad and it will be a great start.
Ingredients for Salad
2 cups cooked fava beans
1 large tomato (chopped)
1 sweet pepper (sliced)
1 beetroot (roasted for 1 hour)
1/2 white daikon (chopped)
corn (boiled for 3 minutes)
portabella mushrooms (2 slices toasted for 10 minutes)
baby kale (about 10)
1/2 onion (sliced)
1 leek (diced)
1 mini cucumber (sliced)
Ingredients for Dressing
How to get lemon juice out of a lemon
1. Stick a form in the center of a lemon half
2. Squeeze the lemon while twisting the fork up and down and all around
3. Strain pits and pulp
4. Enjoy freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Cook whatever salad ingredients need to be cooked. I roasted medium beet wrapped in aluminum foil in a toaster oven for 1 hour. Boiled corn for 3 minutes in a pot of salted water. And stuck a cookie tray with portabella mushrooms in a toaster oven for 10 minutes.
2. Now chop, slice, or dice all ingredients for your salad.
3. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar. Cover with lid and shake.
5. Toss salad together with a dressing.
Voila! Feel like a Pharaoh today!
|Fava Bean Dip|