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Recipe for family meals :

Ravioli of Smashed Fava Beans, Mint and Ricotta
 

This recipe is from the SodaMail Recipes in Time! newsletter which is written by Chele who also has her own website, Chele's Treasures <click here>

Chele is a single mother of three young boys who manages to find the time to run her own desktop publishing and personalisation service from her home and also writes the popular SodaMail newsletter Recipes in Time! three days a week.

The newsletter is really interesting as not only do you get the recipe but you also learn about the food itself as in this sample recipe. This is one of the internet's better newsletters and if you are interested in your food you should subscribe. To subscribe to Recipes in Time! <click here>

A Little History on Beans

Faba or fava beans probably originated in the Near East in late Neolithic times. By the Bronze Age they had spread at least to Northern Italy and have been found in several lakeside dwellings in Switzerland. The earliest findings in Britain date back to the Iron Age at Glastonbury. They were widely cultivated in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. In ancient Egypt they were mostly eaten by the common people. The upper classes considered them unworthy and, unlike lentils, they have not been found in the tombs or depicted on frescoes.

Before Columbus, the Old World was familiar with numerous kinds of beans, but neither our common bean, nor the lima bean was known. Their American origin is fixed by descriptions and references to finding them at many widely scattered points over the Americas about 1500 and soon after.

Our use of the expression "common bean" is in accord with the scientific name Phaseolus vulgaris, which means exactly that. It includes our dry, field varieties, such as Navy or Pea Bean, Red Kidney, Pinto, Great Northern, Marrow, and Yellow Eye. It also includes all our edible-podded garden beans called stringless or snap beans and formerly called string beans. (Some varieties are stringy).

Ingredients

9 ounces podded fava beans, plus extra for garnish
1 small handful fresh mint, picked and chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for garnish
5 to 6 ounces ricotta
1 handful grated Parmesan, or to taste, plus extra for garnish
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound basic pasta, for ravioli

Method

If the fava beans are very small and soft, you can use them raw. If they are medium to large, blanch them until just tender in unsalted boiling water (remove the skins after blanching if they are slightly tough).

  • Smash or finely chop half the beans and leave the other half whole.
  • Put all the beans into a bowl with the chopped mint (added to taste), olive oil and ricotta. Lightly fork this through, adding the Parmesan, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
  • Stuff the ravioli with the filling and cook them in gently boiling salted water for around 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Drain carefully.
  • Serve drizzled with a little extra olive oil, and scattered with the extra fava beans, some chopped mint, olive oil and some freshly grated or shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6

Interesting Chinese Myth on Rice

The dried faba bean contains about 25% protein. The bulk of the seed is made up of carbohydrates (about 50%) and it has less than 2% oil. It also contains calcium and iron. Fresh faba beans are good dietary source of protein and in addition contain the vitamins Riboflavin and vitamin C.

Pythagoras (a Greek philosopher in the Sixth century BC) refused to walk through fields of faba beans and forbade his disciples to eat them. He is said to have met his death at the hands of the people of Crotonia in Ancient Bratium (Italy). Pursued by them, he came to the edge of a bean field and, rather than set foot in it, was caught and killed. It is probable that he was prone to favism - a disease which is almost entirely confined to genetically susceptible people of Mediterranean origin. Favism occurs when such individuals consume faba beans or inhale the pollen.

 
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