My, it feels as if it’s been a while since I’ve posted something new! Here at the DDD household, 2012 is off to a fairly slow start. I had fully intended to post this recipe last week, but was sidelined by a wiley sinus infection that has had me drinking ginger tea, irrigating my nasal passages (but only after I boil my water carefully!), and taking all manner of naturopath-prescribed herbal remedies to try to stave off the need for antibiotics. So far it’s been one sneeze forward, two sneezes back. . . I’m functioning. . . but barely.
So, since I’ve hardly cooked anything all year (heh heh), I thought I’d take y’all for a little trip down memory lane today (well, actually, more like just “a few steps down memory lane,” since we’re only heading as far back as December 25th, 2011.). It was at our Christmas dinner last year that I first concocted this recipe for Indian-spiced fava bean balls.
I don’t know about you, but it took me a long time to come round to trying the fearful fava. And it all stems from my love of popular culture. Movies, to be exact.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been ill suited to watching scary movies–and that includes sci-fi thrillers, horror shows, shoot-em-up adventures, monster movies, etc. (My mother loved to tell the story of how, when I was 7 or 8, she had to forbid me from watching The Adams Family on TV with my sister because after just one show, I had recurrent nightmares of being at a tea party in the fictional family’s back yard, served cups brimming with ladybugs instead of liquid; I’d wake screaming). Clearly, not the best constitution for blood, guts, and gore on the big screen.
So it made sense when The Silence of the Lambs first came out, I had no desire to go see it. Weeks went by, and soon all my friends were buzzing about Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, what great onscreen chemistry, what a twisted plot, what a genius performance of a diabolical killer, what a great, great, great movie it was, yadda yadda yadda. “Don’t be such a wimp!” they’d chide me, or “but you’ll really love the suspenseful plot twists and the mystery of it,” or, “Aw, c’mon, Ric, if you come with me I promise I’ll hold your hand through the whole thing–ya big baaaaby!! Hahahahaha!!!”.
I would have stuck to my guns, too, if not for Mr. Ranch Hand. You see, back when the movie premiered (in 1991), I had just recently re-entered the world of singledom. I’d sworn off men for the time being and had spent the previous year (or thereabouts) reading books from the library, watching videos from the library, cooking soup (very comforting) and baking (even more comforting) for my room mate and me, or sitting in our living room every evening watching my (pre-recorded) soap opera with my room mate’s two cats (roomie, on the other hand, was usually out on dates in the evenings.). So when a friend dragged me out to a jazz club one night, and I met Mr. Ranch Hand (from Calgary, Alberta, who had just moved to Toronto) and he asked me out on a date–an honest-to-goodness cowboy–how could I refuse? And–go figure–he wanted to see a movie. Which movie? Yep, you guessed it–Silence of the Lambs.
Let’s just say I didn’t hold Mr. Ranch Hand’s hand during the movie. And oh, there was no second date.
My memory did, however, become indelibly imprinted with the phrase, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti,” which will forever more be associated in my mind–and heart–with blood, guts, and gore. (New age math equasion: Hannibal Lecter + fava beans = blood, guts and gore.) Needless to say, I avoided fava beans thereafter. In addition, I never again slurped my food. Ever.
As a result, fava beans were put on the back burner (so to speak) as far as “new foods Ricki would like to try,” for the longest time. It wasn’t until I cooked up the Egyptian Fava Bean breakfast on this blog a couple of years ago (it was my love of all things spicy that finally convinced me) that I came to recognize the appeal of favas. And while I never tire of that particular combination of smooth, creamy beans, caramelized onions, spicy jalapeno and juicy tomato all dusted with cumin, I’ve been wondering what other dishes I might create with the formidable fava. Time to move on–and to heck with Hannibal Lecter!
I had planned to create bean balls that could be served atop a larger curry-rice dish. However, by the time I’d finished prepping all the other side dishes for our dinner and The HH had
kidnapped and skinned (oops, nope, wrong memory–damn you, Hannibal Lecter!) cooked his turkey, I was too pooped to mix up the rice. Instead, I opted to top the balls with cranberry sauce in lieu of chutney. The outcome was tasty, but I could tell it hadn’t reached its full potential: the insides were a little too soft, the sauce a little too cloying
Last week, I toyed further and developed a chutney of my own, combining grape tomatoes and cranberries. The result was spectacular. These bean balls are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, with a hearty flavor that’s not quite sweet, exactly, nor quite spicy–yet with an understated sweetness of squash alongside warming Indian spices like cumin and garam masala. The bright
blood-hued scarlet condiment is at once tangy, sweet and slightly sour with its own mélange of spices to best highlight the fruitiness in the tomatoes.
In fact, the HH and I loved these little gems so much that we’ve now eaten them three more times. But please, just don’t offer me a glass of chianti to go with them.
Spiced Fava Bean Balls with Cranberry-Tomato Chutney
suitable for ACD, all stages
Compared to most other beans, favas are a truly lofty legume: measured against chickpeas, lentils, and black beans, they offer the most protein for the fewest calories (14 grams of protein per cup/240 ml, second only to lentils for protein; but lentils deliver 226 calories to fava’s mere 182). These balls make a great grain-free main course on their own, or use them to top off a rice pilaf or curry for additional protein.
2 tsp (10 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) garam masala
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) mild curry powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) smoked paprika (plain is fine, too)
1 large carrot, washed and cut in chunks (no need to peel if organic)
2 cups (480 ml) very well cooked small dried fava beans (or use one 19 oz/540 ml can, very well rinsed and drained–I did NOT use fresh [green] beans in this recipe)
1/2 cup (120 ml) packed baked squash flesh (I used butternut)
1/3 cup (80 ml) garfava flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp (15 ml) ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) almond butter (or use tahini or sunflower seed butter for nut free)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt, or to taste
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Heat the oil in a frypan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, garam masala, cumin, curry powder and paprika and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, process the remaining ingredients until almost smooth (it’s okay if there are a few flecks of parsley here and there, but there should be no large chunks of carrot visible). Add the onion-garlic mixture and process again to blend. The texture will be moist, but it will be thick enough to hold its shape.
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop the mixture and place on the cookie sheets. Wet your palms and roll each mound into a ball.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until the exterior is dry and beginning to crisp up. The bottoms will be well browned. May be served immediately, or, for a firmer texture, make the balls ahead and store in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat. Makes about 2 dozen bean balls. May be frozen (freeze on cookie sheets, then transfer to freezer bags once solid).
Cranberry Tomato Chutney
suitable for ACD Stage 3 and beyond
This recipe is the result of my quest to do something different with my cranberries, coupled with a box of grape tomatoes on my counter begging to be used. The combination produced one of the best chutneys I’ve ever tasted; and it doubles beautifully as a jam on your morning toast or pancakes.
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) black mustard seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Chinese 5-Spice powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt, or more, to your taste
2 cups (480 ml) grape or cherry tomatoes, measured and then sliced in half
2 cups (480 ml) cranberries, fresh or frozen
30-40 drops plain stevia liquid, to your taste (it should be sweet but still tangy)
In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, coconut sugar and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is very soft and translucent, 7-10 minutes. Add the ginger and mustard seeds and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add all remaining ingredients except for the stevia and stir well to combine. Lower heat to simmer, cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries and tomatoes are very soft and most of the cranberries have popped, 20-25 minutes.
Add stevia and adjust for sweetness. Store in a clean jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Makes about 2 cups (480 ml).
I’ll be sharing this recipe at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday this week.
Last Year at this Time:
Four Years Ago: Happy Trails [components of a good trail mix]
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