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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fava & Scarlet Emperor Hummus ???


     
Fava's at Pike's

These Favas are fully developed in May even in the NW climate. If one were growing them in SoCal, it might be worth an experiment to plant them as late as January. Cold ground doesn't bother them. They've been an early spring staple in  N. Europe for centuries.

 Fava's were somewhat displaced in N. Europe by the potato--unfortunately-- considering the potato blight and the resulting Irish Famine. Potatoes are grown, even by the totally clueless--- (which is often how I feel in the vegetable garden.) In a rainy climate about all you have to do is stick the seed potatoes in the ground and stand back. (Until the blight strikes!) The resulting-- easy to grow-- crop kicked off a population explosion in Ireland in the 19th c. (It has been estimated an Irishman ate 12 lbs of potatoes a day. You'd have to have a lot of Fava's to match that calorie count.)

N. European settlers in Ireland (mostly German) survived the Blight because they never stopped growing Favas and were generally more canny farmers . The Irish were basically cattle herders and had not developed sophisticated farming skills to match those of many European countries. Hence the imported N. European farmers, brought in by the English landlords  as an attempt to make farming more profitable in Ireland. Not for the Irish, of course, but for the English landlords.

( Ignore  digression ....must be channelling  Irish grandmother.)
Growing   Beans takes a little more skill than growing potatoes--though not much more. (My Scarlet Runners are flourishing--supposed to be a perennial in this climate--a native of the Mexican high plateau.) So exciting to see them growing like Jack and the Beanstalk beans that I returned to Ken Albala's book , BeansA History, to read up on them.

Then, looking for recipes for SR Bs and Favas,  discovered....
Scarlet Emperor Runners
                                            
                                       (Image from W Commons) the darker seeds are the more mature.



                                                                  Hummus

 Unless they are eaten fresh, very young, SR Bs are stronger," more bean-y" than many. You might not like them.  Same is true of Favas . But hummus  made with mature beans--and garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro or Italian Parsley combined  in a food processor served with pita or tortilla chips might make you a  passionate convert to home made hummus. However, don't try this at home without boiling the beans --please. Raw SR Bs are not good for you.

 Wing it on the recipe with the amounts you use--about a cup of boiled beans*, save some bean water to use in processing-- a whole Meyer lemon's juice, 2 or more cloves of garlic, sesame seeds if you have them around (or tahini, or peanut butter ), cilantro or flat leafed Italian parsley to taste, salt /pepper. Make a well in the top for olive oil.

Hummus originates in the Levant and  traditionally uses garbanzo's .You can  (be daring) use  favas or Scarlet Runner beans, even though you can't find a recipe using them very easily, since neither is a traditional crop in the Middle East.)

 Besides hummus----- Hummingbird's love Scarlet Runners. Who could ask for anything more?                                                     

                                            

 Note for SoCal bean growers- planted 2 sets of SRunners- one started in doors in plantable pots, 4 seeds simply put into the ground after a 12 hour soak in water. All the potted seeds survived, but off to a slow start. One of the 4 planted in the ground seeds survived, but it took off at top speed and will soon outstrip the earlier ones.

* 1 c. of beans= you can combine SRB, Fava's or garbanzos (chickpeas)--any one, or the combination will work .I seem to end up with handfuls of this or that---not cups.

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