(Adult) Prep work
Fava bean salad is super easy to throw together if you take the time to prepare in advance. To make the experience more enjoyable for all involved and less chaotic for me (and less boring for my kids), I cook whatever ingredients need to be done in advance. Today:
(1) I roasted a medium-sized beet wrapped in aluminum foil in a toaster oven for 1 hour.
(2) I boiled the corn for 3 minutes in a pot of salted water.
(3) I put portabella mushrooms on a cookie tray and cooked them in a toaster oven for 10 minutes.
(4) I also boiled pre-soaked fava beans.
Fava Bean Salad
Ingredients for Salad
2 cups cooked fava beans
1 large tomato (chopped)
1 sweet pepper (sliced)
a medium-sized beet (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 leaves)
1/2 onion (sliced)
1 leek (diced)
1 mini cucumber (sliced)
Dried or Fresh Dill
Dried or Fresh Thyme
What to do
1. (Kids) Ask your kids to chop, slice, or dice a tomato, sweet peppers, a cooked beet, roasted mushrooms, leek, cucumber, and onion. (I have one kid who loves cutting onions and one who doesn’t. What about your kids?)
2. (Adult) Cut the corn off the cob.
3. (Kids) Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
4. (Adult + Kids) Show kids how to squeeze lemon juice out of a fresh lemon. (My kids love this part. They immediately ask for an extra lemon to make some lemonade in a bag). In case you need a bit of help with the lemon. Here are the four steps:
1. Stick a fork 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
4. (Kids) Combine dressing ingredients in a jar. Cover with lid and shake.
5. (Kids) Pour dressing on salad and stir.
Aiwa! Feel like a Pharaoh today!
The Fun History of Fava Beans for Kids (and You)
Fava beans are Magical
Fava Beans are one of the oldest cultivated plants on earth and it’s believed that the original story of Jack and the Beanstalk is about fava beans. Throughout the centuries, its reputation often changed from magic to evil and back again.
Ancient Egyptians believed that fava beans have supernatural powers. They were presented as a symbolic offering to the Gods of the Nile. Eating fava beans was considered a privilege. Not only were some Egyptians not allowed to eat fava beans, but some were even forbidden to look at them. Great quantities of beans have been found in the tombs of Pharaohs to feed them in the afterlife. An Arab saying goes, “beans have satisfied even the Pharaohs.” Today, falafel is the most famous fava bean dish.
In the ancient Mediterranean region, fava beans prevented people from coming down with malaria. Old Wives Tale? Not so fast. It was discovered that fava beans contain chemical compounds similar to quinine-based medications used to treat malaria. What!? People who eat fava beans on a regular basis create a hostile environment within their body for malaria. Magic beans!
Another reason for fava beans’ magical status is their hardiness. According to an old Sicilian legend, one rainless season, all the crops failed except for fava beans. They were the only thing that kept people from starvation that year. Since then Sicilians have placed fava beans on the altar on St. Joseph’s Day in March and they bake fava bean cakes in the fall when fava beans are sown.
Fava Beans are Deadly
The fava beans’ reputation suffered considerably when it was discovered that they could be deadly for certain individuals. Today, this disorder has a name: Favism. It’s a hereditary disease where certain individuals don’t have an enzyme needed to break down a substance (peptide glutathione) found in fava beans.
Fava beans were slow to gain scientific adulation. But if you look at the nutritional content you will discover that they are indeed magical. Fava beans contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, A, C, K, and folate, another important B vitamin. Just a mere cup of cooked beans provides 44% of the recommended daily allowance of folate. But that’s not all. Fava beans are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper manganese, and selenium. One cup of cooked fava beans has only 187 calories, but a whopping 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 fava beans is that they need to be soaked overnight. Soaking helps get rid of oligosaccharides – short chains of sugar molecules that lead to flatulence. If you are not used to beans start slowly 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.
Do you love food history? I certainly do! It makes me feel like I can eat history.
Steven Kellogg is the best and you will love his version of Jack and Beanstalk.
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