Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring: Sorrel & Garlic

Farmers markets are right around the corner.

But in the meantime, my sorrel plants are living up to their billing - tough, willing to put up with my benign neglect, and first to sprout back up out of their roots.

Honest - all I did was leave them alone all winter.

Sorrel is the pleasant tonic of the spring plants.  While dandelion is super good for you (the whole reason it was imported by our fore bearers ) it is BITTER.  Sorrel has many of the same vitamin benefits, but its plentiful Vitamin C and oxalic acid give it a bracing sour flavor.  Lemony even!

But other than throwing it into a green smoothie - what to do?

It is still pretty wintery in terms of the food that's growing.  So that means chives and radishes.  (Those greenhouse people - they are doing much better.)

That means it is still pantry food time.  And what lives in the pantry?  Beans!  

Dried or canned beans are plentiful.  As we keep hearing, they are healthy, easy and full of good stuff.  But lets face it, plain beans are BLAND!
No problem - that also means they are begging for something with a big punch of flavor to be stirred in.  So when the Farmers Markets get rolling - and you see the dried beans for sale - you'll be able to see the other things - dried chiles, garlic (and if you are lucky, sorrel) in the right context.  These are here to bring those beans to life.  
In fact many of the cuisines of the world eat beans for breakfast - and hit them up with something flavorful and/or spicy to punch them up.  (see below for a few examples*)

But I'm specifically taking on the traditional breakfast food of Egypt - fūl medames.  Usually this is mature fava beans (they are tan or cream colored) cooked until soft, then flavored with 1. lemon, 2. raw garlic, 3. cumin, 4. olive oil, 5. salt and maybe 6. a pinch of pepper or cayenne.  
Eat with flat bread.

Perfect: along with the pantry beans, #2 over winters, #3 is in the spice cabinet, #4 pantry, #5 & #6 easy easy.  Ooooh, but lemon?  Oh, right how about a big handful of sorrel chopped to smithereens?  

I had fava beans in the pantry, but chickpeas/garbanzo beans are a fine replacement.  Both are starchy beans with a pleasant toasty flavor.  Split favas are nice because they cook up to a nice ready-to-mash-consistency in about 45 min, whereas dried chickpeas can take up to 3 hours. 
But there is no shame in canned.  Those only need about 15min on the stove to get to the right consistency.  (They do have those outer skins, but they are edible so you can just ignore them.)

So for a tasty, filling breakfast or lunch here's what to do:
(By the way - you can cook these beans while doing other dinner prep the night - or several nights before.  And this is a tasty dish that can happily go for a few lunches.)

Sorrel-for-Lemon Fūl Medames

sorrel leaves - 1/2 to 1 C
garlic cloves - 4
ground cumin - 2 tsp
olive oil (the tasty kind) - 2 to 4 Tbs (to taste)
cayenne pepper - a pinch or 2
salt - to taste

mature fava or garbanzo beans cooked very soft (instructions below) - about 2 C

blender or food processor (or cutting board & knife)
measuring cups and spoons

sauce pan for cooking beans
colander for draining beans (or pan lid)

Cook your beans - this can be done the night before, several days before, or even longer - you can freeze cooked beans.  (Some people say they get a little mealy - but since you are mashing them it doesn't matter.)

From dried beans:
Favas -  Pour 1 C dried split favas into the sauce pan.  Add water to rinse.  Rub them together to release any loose powder/starch.  Drain.  Add about 4 C water.  Bring to a boil.  Skim off the scum. Simmer for about 45 min or until the beans mash easily with a fork.

Garbanzos/Chick Peas - do the same, though they can take up to 3 hours.  Shorten the cook time with an overnight soak.

From canned beans:

Garbanzos/Chick Peas - use 2  14.5 oz. cans.  Drain in a colander and give the a quick rinse.  Place in a sauce pan, cover with water.  Bring to a boil. Skim off the scum. Simmer for about 15 min or until the beans mash easily with a fork.

Favas - do the same.


Add the sorrel, garlic, and spices to the blender.  Add 2 Tbs of olive oil.  Chop finely.  Taste for oil and salt.  Blend until well mixed.

This is great over chicken or fish or eggs!

Partially mash the beans - and add in the green sauce.  Enjoy with rice, flat bread, sun dried tomatoes, polenta - whatever your little heart desires.

Here's what it looks like with the garbanzos.

*Some Wildly Overgeneralized Generalizations:
(legumes for breakfast)

Costa Rica - Beans & Rice for breakfast with the (in)famous Salsa Lazano
Japan - the notorious, but undeniably strongly flavored, natto (fermented soy beans)
Mexico - refritos with sausage, chicken or pulled pork and some salsa/pico de gallo
India - spicy dahl (lentils) over rice.
and so on.

1 comment:

deeps said...

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