Fava Bean and Dill Orzo

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With the arrival of summer, I purchased an insulated tote bag to carry to all the local neighborhood farmer’s markets. Last Saturday, at the University District market I scored four pints of beautiful tiny farm strawberries, fresh herbs, rhubarb, duck eggs, and hubby scored a nice slab of what he deemed absolutely beautiful porchetta from a Vashon Island farm. But when we spotted fava beans, plump, green, and perky, we both were giddy with excitement.

Now, if you give a Persian a fava bean, they will want some dill to go with it. And somewhat like in the storybooks (“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, and the entire series of circular tales), they’ll go on and ask for some saffron speckled rice, perhaps some chicken or a leg of lamb, which will call for onions and turmeric. Next, they’ll want to take a nap, so you will have to fix a little spot for them, right there on the floor next to the lunch spread you sat cross legged at, with a pillow and a blanket. And then they’ll wake up and want a cup of tea, and if you give a Persian a cup of tea they’ll want a date to go with it. Or perhaps a cube of sugar. But I digress. Now, back to the fava beans.

Of course, when I saw the fava beans piled oh so perfectly high my mind went directly to baghali polo, fava rice, a favorite of mine. The recipe below (which hubby has dubbed as baghali orzo), is obviously heavily inspired by just that, the traditional Iranian rice dish green with dill and fava, as a base for saffron chicken or slow cooked lamb, and best enjoyed with a side of yogurt. But for a summer evening picnic and in the midst of heat, it’s instead been tossed with orzo pasta cooked al dente, bathed in extra virgin olive oil and bright lemon juice for a delicious cold pasta salad complete with chopped grilled chicken. Add some parmigiano and a bottle of wine and we had ourselves a little picnic to unpack atop a grassy hill with city views.

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You will need:

fava beans, 1 heaping cup, shelled and peeled

fresh dill, 1/4 cup chopped, plus extra for garnish

1 shallot, minced

1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil

orzo pasta,1/2 pound (I used whole wheat)

parmesan cheese,1/4 cup grated

2 lemons, juice and zest

mustard, 1 tablespoon

extra virgin olive oil, 1/4-1/3 cup

salt

pepper

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Directions:

Saute shallots with salt in a bit of coconut oil (any light cooking oil will do). Cook until soft and lightly golden.

Boil (or steams) the fava beans just until fork tender, and rinse immediately under cold water.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, add lemon juice, mustard, zest, and caramelized shallots. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the parmesan, which I microplaned. Gently mix in fava beans and half of the dill. Season to taste.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the orzo and cook until al-dente. Whole wheat pasta takes a tad longer, so about 8 minutes should do. Drain, and toss immediately with the dressing, adding an extra drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Top with parmesan shavings, grated pecorino, or feta crumbles. Serve warm or cold as a delicious side.

If you do decide to serve it cold, do add a bit more seasoning or  stretch out the dressing with an extra squeeze of lemon and an extra drizzle of oil. Cold foods always demand a bit more love to shine through.

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