Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fava Bean Dip - Bessara

Hermoa Beach's farmer's market is every Friday from 12-4, behind the Fire Station
"...I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."  Okay, ick, ick, ick, but don't pretend like you didn't think of that unforgettable quote from Silence of the Lambs as soon as you read the title of this post.  Now, I gift to you another way of thinking of fava beans since it seems to me that most Americans don't eat them.

Last week, I was in need of some inspiration, sort of feeling lazy, and uninterested in making yet more jelly, jam, or marmalade--enough with the citrus!  I'm dying for more produce to be in-season.  I know that in Southern California we can get many fruits year-round, but sometimes I wonder if that's a good citrus it's been for the last month or two.

A little ramble through my local farmer's market in Hermosa Beach cured my doldrums.  I found these gems and had to buy them. **Teaser:  I also found a booth with bags of blood oranges and bought 2 bags...made jam and can't wait to share the recipe with you.**  I've never bought fava beans before, and thought I could find something fun to do with them after a quick internet search.

I decided to make fava bean dip, called bessara, similar to hummus but very tangy and perhaps even tastier than hummus.  It's great with pita bread or as a dip for freshly-cut carrots or bell peppers.  I based this recipe on this recipe here:  Moroccan Fava Bean Dip , but I made some changes (the main one being less olive oil because it didn't seem necessary...thought it could make it greasy without adding flavor) so I hope you enjoy it!

Before you begin making this, know that working with fava beans is very time-consuming, and 2 pounds of the bean pods resulted in about 2 cups of bessara.  At the farmer's market, I only asked for 1 lb, but I think something was lost in translation and I was given 2 lbs.  It's a good thing because I wouldn't have had enough to make anything with just 1 lb.  A lot of work, but it's worth it.

2 lbs. fava beans, hulled, steamed, and peeled, approx. 1-1/2 c.
1/4 c. lime juice
1 large shallot clove
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-2 Tbsp. cooking water (read below for description of what I used)
1-1/2 tsp. ground sea salt
1 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.  Steam the fava beans in a steaming pot, about 25 minutes.  I used water that remained from pickling Brussels sprouts and ran them over the fava beans to give them more of a kick.  The beans will look wrinkly and the skin on some of them will split open.
2.  Peel the skin off, revealing the pea-green beans inside.  This step takes a long time...I lost track.  This is what they will look like, unpeeled on left, peeled on the right:
3.  Chop shallot in smaller chunks, place in blender and chop.
4.  Add beans, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and peppers in the blender.  Puree.
5.  Add Tablespoons of water one at a time until you get a smooth, thin consistency, thinner than hummus but good for dipping.  Makes about 2 cups.
6.  Serve with pita bread and/or fresh veggies.
7.  Put in containers, refrigerate or freeze.  This is not a recipe for canning, so I put the bessara in airtight containers.  This is my first time using a Ball plastic container - going to freeze for future dipping and sharing!  xo, AB


  1. You know... Fava beans look like little ovaries.

  2. They least what I remember from anatomy lab in 1995.