Let's talk fava beans. I don't think I've ever seen fresh fava beans available locally. Not anywhere. Not at the farmer's market. Not in the huge supermarkets. Not in the gourmet grocery stores. Not even in the freezer section. I really wanted to make these burgers using fresh or frozen fava beans, but since that wasn't very likely I opted for canned fava beans. I found the canned fava beans in the international section of my supermarket. They were kinda pricey for beans, coming in at around $3.00 per can. There were two different cans available, spicy and regular. Since I needed 3 cups of beans for my recipe I bought two cans of fava beans, one of each. It was the perfect amount.
Now I mention fava beans because I don't think most people in the U.S. have tried them before. I wanna take the time to tell you that this is a major injustice. Fava beans are absolutely delicious! So, before you think about subbing any other kind of bean in this recipe, PLEASE DO NOT! The fava beans are so smooth and creamy and they really meld well with the flavors in this recipe.
Okay, so these burgers are definitely worth making. A lovely mixture of fragrant spices, fava beans, chopped spinach, mashed potato, minced garlic, green chile, cilantro, egg and breadcrumbs come together to make one tasty burger. Eat them on a bun or "naked" alongside a salad. You simply can't go wrong!
Fava Bean Burgers
Adapted from Plenty
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes 6 burgers
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 pound (about 6 cups) spinach*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound (about 3 cups) shelled fava beans, fresh or frozen*
3/4 pound potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
1/2 fresh green chile, seeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
6 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup sunflower or canola oil
6 Buns, for serving
Optional/Topping/Garnish: Spinach, *preserved lemons (see recipe below), slivered red onion, mayo, cheese, etc.
Note: If you make these burgers with fresh or frozen fava beans you may wish to add more cumin. I think my version came out well because I used one can of spicy fava beans. Had my fava beans not been spicy than I would have added another teaspoon of cumin.
Put the whole seeds in a pan and dry-roast over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they start releasing their aromas. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle and leave aside.
Wilt the spinach in a hot pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any liquid, then chop roughly and set aside. (*Note: To save on money and time, you could buy one package of frozen chopped spinach. Once defrosted, you will need about 1/2 cup to replace the fresh wilted spinach in the recipe.)
Blanch the fava beans in boiling water for about one minute; drain and refresh under cold running water. Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins. (*Note: Alternatively, buy two cans of fava beans, drain, and set aside).
Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and tip into a large mixing bowl. Immediately add the skinned fava beans, crushed seeds, chile, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (I accidentally omitted the oil in my burgers and they were fine) and some salt and pepper. Use a potato masher to mash it all up roughly; don't worry if some beans are not totally crushed. Next, add the wilted spinach, chopped cilantro and breadcrumbs. Taste to check the seasoning. Lastly, mix in the egg.
Wet your hands and shape the mix into fat patties that are roughly 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inches thick. Chill them for at least half an hour. (*Note: The burgers mentioned in the directions were simply too huge. I was able to get 6 patties from my mixture.)
To cook, heat up the sunflower or canola oil and fry the burgers on high heat for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Note: Keep these burgers in the fridge and fry as needed. They will keep in the fridge for several days, making them perfect to have on hand for lunch or dinner as needed. Alternatively, keep them in the freezer in a tupperware container with layers of wax paper or parchment paper between the burgers to prevent sticking. You may wish to partially thaw if frozen or just cook them a bit longer (more like 8 minutes per side) if cooking from the frozen state.
Quick Pickled Lemons
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Makes 1.5 quarts
1/2 red chile, chopped
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 small-medium unwaxed lemons, halved lengthwise and sliced widthwise as thinly as possible
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Use a mortar and pestle to smash together the chile with 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice; you want to get a rough-looking paste. Transfer this to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients. Use your hands to mix everything together well so that all the flavors get massaged into the lemons. Leave in a covered bowl overnight, then transfer to a sterilized sealed jar the next day. The lemon will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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