Saturday, January 21, 2017

Roasted Asparagus


Thick asparagus spears after 12 minutes in the oven


     Asparagus is a great roasting vegetable. This recipe is quick, easy and free of common allergens.

     1 bunch of asparagus (~1 pound)
     1/2 Tb. olive or other oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     1/2 Tb. fresh squeezed lemon juice (See Juice in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)

     Preheat oven to 400 F. Place the asparagus on a cooky sheet.  Drizzle the oil and the lemon juice onto it, and sprinkle with salt. Toss briefly so that the asparagus is more or less evenly coated. Spread out the asparagus so it is one layer deep. Bake just until the asparagus is tender; it should still be crisp. This can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus spears.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fava (Not Bean) Dip: Bakla Ezmesi


     The Middle East has a large variety of wonderfully smooth, creamy dips made from legumes. Unfortunately, the only one that's made it to the US at all is humus (garbanzo dip), and most humus made here is gritty, nasty stuff. Fava dip (bakla ezmesi), in addition to being a classic Turkish dip that is smooth and creamy and has a bright, delicate flavor, contains no (sesame) tahini or actual beans. Favas are a vetch rather than an actual bean.
     Allergies to beans, peas or lentils do not necessarily mean an allergy to favas. My grandson, who was violently allergic to every kind of bean, pea and lentil, ate them with impunity.  Note that there is a rare genetic enzyme deficiency (not a true allergy) that gives some people, especially of Middle Eastern or African descent, gastrointestinal distress when they eat favas. 

     dry favas
     1 small chopped onion
     1/4 c. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     fresh squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon See Juice in the Glossary)
     2 T. firmly packed fresh baby dill leaves stripped off their stems
     1/2 c. water
     (optional) 1 or 2 cloves of garlic

     Cooking dry favas is like cooking beans.  You have to presoak them and, if you're trying to make a puree that is not lumpy, you need to cook them thoroughly. The efficient way to do this is to cook a potful of favas, portion them out by cupfuls and keep them in the freezer: you can then quickly thaw them out and use them in recipes whenever needed. 
     You can presoak overnight in enough cold water that the favas will still be covered after they swell up to twice their size or so; alternatively, you can bring them to a boil in the water, remove from heat, cover tightly, allow to soak for one hour and drain. This method, besides being quicker, is good for removing any "gas."
     Add water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until thoroughly soft, probably an hour and a half or so, and drain. Next, slide the skins off the favas. The skins are bitter, and they can make lumps in your dip. (If you use Bob's Red Mill favas, you do not need to either presoak or remove the skins from the favas: they are ready to cook.) Now you are ready to make fava dip.
     On low heat, gently saute the onion with the olive oil and salt until it is thoroughly translucent and soft. Put into a good blender with 2 cups of the cooked favas and all other ingredients. Puree thoroughly; you can add a bit more water if you need to, to get the dip to blend properly. Spread on a plate and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon slices and/or chopped fresh baby dill if you like.