Tag Archives: Fava beans

Warm Fava Hummus with Caramelised Pistachio Butter


Eating beans certainly doesn’t have to be all about calorie counting as this warm fava bean purée swirled with rich, nutty butter demonstrates. I cooked up the recipe at a recent workshop in London for The Guild of Food Writers and promised to post it.

British beans and peas are enjoying quite a renaissance at the moment thanks to Nick Saltmarsh and the rest of the team at Hodmedods. The fact is that we export vast quantities, thousands of tons in fact, of fava beans (dried broad beans) every year and they taste bloody good, are fantastically nutritious and really economical too. It seems rather fortuitous that we’re developing a taste for cheap, homegrown beans right at this moment, with the pound plunging ever downwards and us setting our country adrift into God knows where, we may well be needing some economical sustenance in the near future (that will be my first and last Brexit comment here otherwise I might just get into a rant).

The dish was inspired by a recipe in the new United Nations FAO cook book, Pulses: Nutritious Seeds for a Sustainable Future (the book can be downloaded here). Turkish chef Didem Senol gives a recipe for warm hummus (made with chickpeas as you would expect) and a hot spicy butter. Here’s a copy of the recipe….


My version used some split fava beans that cook up to a deliciously soft purée in about half an hour with no need for soaking at all. These split beans are great to add to curries and stews to thicken up the sauce (good for the gluten intolerant and also great for those like me who enjoy the creamy texture), they also make the most fabulous falafel. I liked the idea of the melted butter on top as, hoorah, we’re able to ladle on the fat again nowadays without an ounce of guilt (I feel so sorry for those who’ve been suffering margarine or low-fat spread for decades only to discover that it was all a waste of time). So, I was up for the melted butter but thought I’d really pull out all the stops by caramelising it too. If you’ve never tried this before you’ll be amazed; “beurre noisette” is heaven with fish (just add a few capers and a bit of parsley) and even better with pasta (add some sage leaves to crisp up as the butter browns).

Warm Fava Hummus with Caramelised Pistachio Butter

Makes 2 large bowls – ideal for sandwiches, salads, dipping and whatever else you usually do with hummus. The butter only really works with warm hummus, you could always zap it in the microwave just before serving.

250 g split fava beans
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
100 ml -ish extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

50 g unsalted butter
50 g roughly chopped pistachio nuts
Good pinch of Urfa chilli flakes (or any other sweet, slightly smoked chilli)

For the hummus
Take a small pan, cover the fava beans by a couple of centimetres of cold water and then place over a medium heat. Skim off the froth as the beans come up to the boil and then simmer until they begin to soften and collapse into the cooking liquid. Do add a little extra water if needed but only enough to keep the favas from drying out. The idea is to purée the beans and liquid to make the hummus but if they are very wet you could strain through a sieve.

Whizz up the beans with a blender, out board engine (aka handheld blender) or food processor and mix in the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt to taste. You could, of course, serve this minus butter BUT please do give it a go, you may become hooked.

For the butter
Melt the butter in a small saucepan (ideally a steel rather than dark, non-stick pan so that you can watch the colour of the butter changing later).

Turn up the heat until the butter begins to froth and then use your nose; once you begin to get that gorgeous biscuity smell you need to be on your guard. Swirl the pan a little so that you can see what’s going on and once the little flecks of milk solids are turning a foxy red/brown it’s time to quickly tip the butter into a heatproof container to stop it from burning. Too pale and the butter will taste cloying and fatty, too dark and it will taste burnt (just like a sugar caramel).

Stir in the pistachios and  Urfa chilli flakes. Swirl the butter over the warm hummus and serve right away with toasted bread.

Split favas are available in many health food shops, deli’s and good grocers now and also online at Hodmedods

Urfa chilli flakes are available at plenty of good spice shops and delis and I found mine online at Sous Chef

DO listen to The Radio 4 Food Programme on 10th/11th July – it’s all about pulses.
Nick Saltmarsh of Hodmedod, Sanjay Kumar of The Cornish Sardine School and I had a wonderful time recording some of the programme with Sheila Dillon in Bristol last week.


Moroccan Memories and Bessara Soup

I was gathering together some recipes this morning for my moorish salad demo at the wonderful Borough Market and it got me reminiscing and poring over a few pictures from last year’s trip to Tangiers. Pete took some beautiful photographs (I can only claim to be author of half a dozen) and they do set the scene for the unbelievably simple, nutritious and tasty dip/soup that I’m cooking today.

I love the contrast of these first two sets of photographs. First you have the calm, relative coolness of the courtyards and back streets of the casbah and then the bustle of the souk with all it’s smells and vivid colours.

We stayed in a fab little hotel, high in the casbah , looking out over the Straits of Gibraltar – The Tangerina Hotel . The rooftop terrace was a fabulous place to chill and to eat simple and very delicious food. One evening we had a silky smooth bowl of bessara, made with split fava beans or peas –  it’s a classic all over Morocco, often eaten as a breakfast dish and sometimes served a little thicker as a dip with good bread.

I’m making bessara back at home too, it’s real comfort food, just great when you’re yearning for something healthy and nourishing, and I’ve been over indulging rather too much of late (Bristol has been a never ending food fest’ but that’s the next post). My split fava beans (dried broad beans) come from a fabulous British company called Hodmedods who sell our native beans (we’ve exported vast quantities of our fava beans to Egypt and the Middle East for years ). I love to use favas for falafel too. You can find these English beans in lots of health food shops nowadays.

Bessara  – Split fava or split pea soup. (about 6 bowls)

300 g split fava beans or split peas
3 tbsp olive oil
2 0nions, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
A good swirl of extra virgin olive oil
A good pinch of chilli flakes or smoked hot paprika
A few sprigs of fresh coriander, chopped

It’s a good idea, but not vital, to soak the split beans or peas in plenty cold water for a few hours – you’ll cut the cooking time considerably.

Take a large saucepan and fry off the onion and carrot until soft and beginning to brown and sweeten. Now add the garlic and cumin and fry until you’re enveloped in amazing smells.

Drain the beans and add to the pan, cover with 10 cm of water. Simmer for anything between 30 minutes to an hour until the beans or peas have pretty much collapsed.

Take a stick blender and whizz until smooth. Season with salt and lemon juice.

Serve the soup with a good swirl of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of chilli or paprika and a sprinkling of fresh of coriander.

Jenny Chandler's fava bean soup

The soup should be velvety , about the thickness of double cream so you may need to add some liquid to loosen the texture.
Bessara can also be left thicker as a dip, rather like hummous or even served as a purée to use as a side dish in a mashed potatoey style.