I love this time of the year when all the fresh produce is at its best. Farmers’ Markets or Pazar, as we call it in Turkish, are packed with ripe juicy tomatoes (why not enjoy tomatoes in this Gavurdagi Salad of ripe tomatoes, walnuts with pomegranate molasses dressing), slim gorgeous aubergines /eggplants (try Imam Bayildi, eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables; a delicious and refreshing vegetarian course you can prepare ahead of time), watermelon, peppers and many more. Turkish cuisine is based on using fresh, seasonal produce and seeing these is a paradise on a plate for me.
I was delighted to find fresh broad beans or fava beans in my local farmers market a few weeks ago. Fresh broad beans are available from late spring until about end of August. Broad beans were a staple food in ancient times and they are common in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines today. They are very high in protein and fiber and naturally low in fat and cholesterol. I love their unique, earthy flavor, especially in this popular mezze in Turkey; Fava, Pureed broad beans with dill, lemon juice and olive oil. Traditionally, we use dried broad beans for this puree; this time I used fresh broad beans and it worked really well.
I especially loved the bright sweetness of the fresh broad beans in this appetizer. Blended with dill, olive oil and lemon juice, it turned out to be a delicious, earthy dip. It has a consistency of a thick hummus and is delightful on toasted bread or crackers. I served this dip with sautéed strips of red peppers in red pepper flakes (pul biber) infused olive oil; the sweetness of the peppers and the touch of spice from the red pepper flakes worked so well with the earthy flavor of the broad beans. As you can prepare ahead of time, it makes a lovely entertaining dish. This broad beans puree keeps very well in the fridge for a good few days.
Turkish cuisine is based on seasonal produce and offers a wide range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices, very healthy and delicious too. I aimed to showcase our healthy Turkish cuisine with over 90 delicious, authentic dishes at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland; signed copies available to order at this link, if you’d like.
Serves 2 – 4
200 gr/ 7 oz./1 ¾ cups fresh broad beans, shelled (or a generous 1 cup dried broad beans)
1 small potato, cut in chunky cubes
1 small onion, roughly chopped
30 ml/ 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
5ml/ 1 tsp. brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
30ml/ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 small red bell (or pointy) pepper, deseeded and cut into thin stripes
30ml/2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
30ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
5ml/1 tsp. Turkish red pepper flakes (pul biber)
If you are using dried broad beans, place the beans in a bowl of water and soak overnight or for at least 4-6 for six hours. Drain beans and then cook them in boiling water with the potatoes and onions. Simmer for about 40-45 minutes, until tender. Once cooked, drain the water and set aside to cool.
If you are using fresh broad beans, blanch the shelled beans in boiling water for about a minute, then grasp them by the furrowed ends and slip them out of their skins.
In a small saucepan, add these broad beans, potatoes and onions, cook over medium heat until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Pulse the cooked beans and vegetables with dill in a food processor to form a purée consistency. Remove from the food processor into a bowl and stir in olive oil, sugar and lemon juice. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste.
Just before serving, gentlyheat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the Turkish red pepper flakes. Add the stripes of red bell peppers, combine and cook for a few minutes. The red pepper flakes will infuse to the olive oil and turn into a lovely red color. Stir in the fresh dill and turn the heat off.
Once the broad beans puree is set in the fridge, unmold, turn the puree over on a serving dish. Drizzle the sautéed peppers and the olive oil over and around the pureed broad beans dip. You can enjoy this delicious dip with toasted bread or crackers aside.
Tips for buying fresh fava (broad beans):
- When purchasing fresh fava beans (or broad beans), look for bright green pods that are free of yellow patches. Large beans are starchy and firm, while smaller ones are sweeter and tenderer.
- If you are buying shelled beans, make sure they are tender and have a smooth surface.
- To store shelled fava beans, spread them out in a single layer and cover them loosely with plastic wrap for up to three days.