Stringless green beans became widely available in Greece only in the last few years. As far back as I can remember, before we could cook this very popular summer dish we had to slave for hours trimming each one of the flattish beans – a kind of runner bean – that we cooked.
My mother often added sliced zucchini (see variation) when she wanted to save time, trimming fewer runner beans but still making enough food for all four of us. Fassolakia ladera, made with any kind of green beans, even with frozen ones, is an amazing dish! The potatoes take on a wonderful flavor cooked together with the beans in a rich tomato sauce, and I can’t resist eating them while still warm.
Sprinkle with the reserved parsley and serve warm or at room temperature, if you can wait, with crusty bread and Feta cheese.
It is fava time again, and this spring, after quite a long, wet, and cold winter, we seem to have lots of delicious, succulent pods.
Although we planted less beans last fall, the robust fava plants at the edge of our western garden are full of pods that I struggle to harvest before they grow large and stringy. We love eating them whole, much like green beans, as their velvety pods are tender and delicious. Over the years I have made the traditional braised fava with green onions and fennel, a more creative dish with preserved lemon and cilantro, and of course various kinds of fresh fava risotto, either with rice or orzo pasta. Inspired by a Spanish recipe by David Tanis I made a kind of fresh fava scrambled eggs, quite different from the traditional Greek island froutalia, the seasonal omelets with vegetables and potatoes.
Yesterday I cooked a new, apparently quite successful dish to showcase them: Inspired by the old, quick braised fava recipe with garlic, and both coriander seeds, and fresh coriander (cilantro) that I have in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, I created yet one more variation of the one-pot-pasta, this time with fresh fava and the two kinds of coriander/cilantro. Both Costas and I enjoyed it enormously, and we think that it is one of the best such simple pastas I made.
One-pot Pasta with Fava, Coriander Seeds, and Cilantro
1/2 cup good olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon coarsely ground coriander seeds
About 1 1/2 pound tender fava pods, ends trimmed, chopped into 1/4-inch slices
350 grams bavete, ditalini or a combination (this was what I had in my cupboard)
About 4 cups boiling water or vegetable broth, Or more, as needed
Salt and Aleppo or red pepper flakes, to taste
A large bunch cilantro, chopped —stems and all
Crumbled feta for serving
Warm the olive oil and saute the garlic and coriander in a medium pot, until the garlic starts to smell. Do not let it start to color.
Add the chopped fava and sauté 2 minutes, then add the pasta, turn a few times and pour in 3 cups of boiling water or broth. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring often in high heat for about 9 minutes, adding more boiling water or broth if it gets dry. Taste and if the pasta is almost al dente, stir in the cilantro, taste, correct the seasoning, and remove from the heat, making sure it has quite a bit of broth.
Cover and let sit for 3-4 minutes, before serving in bowls, sprinkled with feta, and drizzled with fruity olive oil, if you like.
Porihia or Vrouves —the fresh shoots of wild mustard— are thehorta (wild greens) we most love here on Kea!
Their flavor is strong and somewhat bitter, much like the Italian cime di rapa or brocoletti. I am very proud of the bunch I gathered during our morning excursion up, in the mountainous Kato Meria. Feels like spring but we are told that more cold, wind, and maybe snow is coming…
With the bunch of porihia –wild mustard shoots– I gathered, instead of just boiling them as salad I made a fast, one-pot-pasta substituting greens and garlic for the tomatoes etc. of the original recipe. I could include anchovies, but I decided not to, this time. We didn’t miss them.
I sauteed four garlic cloves in olive oil, added the greens, and some white wine, then about two cups boiling water, and half a packet of pasta. I cooked them stirring often, for about 9 min. Served the green’s pasta drizzled with fresh lemon juice, and more fruity olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and a handful of chopped fennel. We loved it!