Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Click here to go to the recipe database.Young Fava Bean Pods
The bag containing what looks like giant green beans would be the young fava bean pods (you'll see in the coming weeks that they get MUCH bigger!). At this young stage you do not shell them, but eat them pod and all (just, in fact, like big green beans!).Prep and storage
: These you can just stick in the fridge in the bag they came in. To eat: top and tail the pods, washing as needed, and cut into bite-size segments. Steam about 5 minutes, then eat any number of ways: simply tossed with a little butter, salt and tarragon (or other herb), or sauté up in olive oil with some chopped green garlic and a little herbs de Provence. Or lightly oil, sprinkle with salt and grill pods whole. In the next week or two I'll talk about how to use the favas when they get bigger.Artichokes
(see last week's newsletter
for discussion on artichokes)Green garlic vs leeks - how to tell them apart
Did you miss this discussion last week? Click here
if you are faced with this conundrum for the first time.Mei Qing Choi
Tom tends to call it 'bok choi' or 'pak choi' but technically this variety is called mei qing choi. The two are totally interchangeable in recipes, so don't be thrown off by the exotic-sounding name. The flavor is quite similar (actually I'd have to do a blind taste test to see if I could even tell them apart); most of the difference is in appearance: bok choi has longer, whiter stems and dark green leaves (below left); mei qing choi has pale green stems and round or oval, only slightly darker green leaves (below right).
A nice stir-fry might include the choi, sautéed green garlic, leek and/or onion, some partially-steamed broccoli, carrots, and pieces of fava pod, and maybe some sunflower sprouts thrown in at the last minute. Scare up your favorite stir-fry recipe, and adapt it to use some or all of these veggies - it'll be great!
I discovered that I also really love chopping and using mei qing choi raw in tuna salad (or chicken salad or similar) in place of celery; the choi is more tender than celery, but still provides crunch... a more delicate crunch, easier to eat in a sandwich! And go ahead and chop up the leaves and throw them into the mix too, or use the leaves instead of 'lettuce' when you assemble your sandwich! Below is the chicken salad recipe I made up, to give you an idea, but even in your basic can-o-tuna-plus-mayo, it is a great addition!
For that matter, try substituting mei qing choi in any recipe where you normally would use celery. Variation on a theme!Debbie's Chicken Salad with Mei Qing (or Bok) Choi
diced or shredded cooked chicken
diced green onion (the tender, juicy green stems on the onions in your shares can be used like scallions)
toasted chopped walnuts
bleu cheese (a little bit, crumbled)
plumped dried cranberries (soak 'em in boiling water a few min.)dressing
(I'll try to give you proportions; they're not exact measurements!):
a combo of walnut oil and flaxseed oil (or a plain canola if you don't have either of these) ~ 2 tbsp.
orange zest/oil* - zest from ½ to a whole orange, depending on how big it is
dab of honey ~ ¼ to ½ tsp.
dab or Dijon mustard ~ ¼ to ½ tsp.
balsamic vinegar ~ 1 tbsp.
some mayonnaise ~ 1 ½ tbsp.
salt and pepper to taste
bed of lettuce or arugula for serving
Combine dressing ingredients. Toss chicken, choi, nuts, cheese and cranberries with dressing, then serve individually, on beds of lettuce or arugula, or make into a sandwich!
*here's a trick: before making the dressing, zest the orange over the cup you are going to make the dressing in. Point the orange/zester in such a way that the orange oil that sprays out when you do the zesting is captured by the cup along with the zest. Remove zest from cup, mince up, and return to cup; add oils and swirl to mix - the orange oil will then commingle with the other oils and enhance the overall flavor!Here's a recipe I made up this winter, for using chard.Debbie's Bean and Chard Stew
bacon (optional) or olive oil
leek, sliced thinly and/or chopped
1 lg. clove garlic or 1 stalk green garlic, white and light green part, minced
1 bunch chard, washed, stems and leaves chopped finely, separately
cooked beans, such as white or cannelini (pretty flexible)
sundried tomatoes, chopped
additional water, as needed
salt and pepper to taste
a little red wine vinegar
parmesan cheese, for grating on top (optional)
Dice 1 or 2 strips of bacon (or pancetta, if you like fancy) and fry up until partially cooked, then add leek, garlic, and chard stems and cook until veggies are tender and leeks are starting to go golden. (If you don't want to use bacon, fry the leek, garlic and stems in olive oil.)
Add rest of ingredients except for vinegar and parmesan, stir to mix, turn heat to medium, cover and simmer until chard leaves have wilted and sundried tomatoes plumped (depending on how much liquid comes with the beans, you may need to add a little water; you need enough moisture for the chard to steam).
Once cooked down (5-10 minutes), drizzle in some red wine vinegar (taste and see how much you like; start with a little -- you can always add more) and stir to mix. Serve warm with optional parmesan cheese for grating on top!Beets-yogurt-dill
This recipe is another favorite I must repeat for new folks because it is just so delicious, beautiful and screamin' easy! Simply dice up cold cooked beets, then stir in some plain yogurt, minced fresh dill and a little salt. It comes out a most brilliant shocking magenta, but the dill... oh, it is so good!! Serve it in a little bowl, or put a spoonful on a leaf or two of lettuce for a salad.Lastly, here's a green bean recipe that would be great with young fava bean pods substituted for the green beans:Lemon Fava Bean Pods with Cashewsadapted from Kristin Jarden's Vegetarian Cookbook
serves 4 to 6
about 1 1/2 lbs. green beans
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. ghee or oil
1/3 C cashews (chopped, broken or whole)
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 to 2 whole dried chilies, slit (or 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
1 pinch asifedita (fairly important)
3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Trim beans and cut into 1" pieces. Sprinkle with salt and steam or boil until tender, then drain. Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat, lightly fry cashews until golden. Remove with slotted spoon, drain and set aside. Fry mustard seeds in same pan until they pop. Add ginger and fry 20 seconds. Mix in ground coriander, chilies and asifedita, add green beans, cilantro, lemon juice and cashews. Sauté another 5 to 7 minutes to heat through.