Young Favas in Tomato Sauce
This is something I’ve only had in Greece, and I’ve never seen a recipe. When the fava beans are very young, early in the season, and fairly small, they can be cooked and eaten whole, by which I mean pod and all. They are cooked very simply: braised until tender, along with grated fresh tomato, grated onion, oil, and a bit of water in a covered pot. Salt, of course, and more surprisingly, sugar. At first I thought it was maybe the sweetness of the tomatoes, but when I asked my friend if she’d put sugar in them, she smiled, looked away, and muttered “just a little bit.”
The box grater is a kitchen staple in Greece, and at times when we would pick up a vegetable and chop it, Greeks will often use the box grater. It’s quite good for fresh, juicy tomatoes and for onions, too, both of which are part of this dish.
I’d put the quantities about like this:
- 1 lb of small, young fava beans, in their pods, cleaned and trimmed of any stringy or hard edge
- 2 large ripe red tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 3 tablespoons oil
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon sugar
Grate the tomatoes, making sure to save all their liquid. You can grate into a bowl if that helps. Peel and grate the onion, once again being careful not to lose any of the liquid.
Put the oil in the sauce pan, heat, add all the other ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until tender, checking occasionally and adding a little water if necessary. I’d say a half hour at least, but it will depend entirely on how tender the pods are, so keep your eye on it.
Correct your salt and sugar ratio before serving, and I’m the kind of cook that will add oil as well.
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