For many of our overseas readers broad beans will be a familiar sight. In traditional British kitchens, for example, these smooth, pale green beans were all too often boiled to within an inch of their lives and served up in a béchamel sauce. In Turkey, however, these beans are cooked and served in several very different, healthy and delicious ways.
Fethiye: a bean paradise
Fethiye has a cornucopia of seasonal vegetables, all of which are delicious. The soil and climate in this part of Turkey adds so much extra flavour to even the most ordinary produce. There are vegetables in Fethiye that can give your taste buds a totally new gastronomic experience.
Fethiye’s manav (greengrocers) tell us that foreigner visitors to the town often ask them to name and explain how to cook some of the more unusual vegetables they have on display. So far we have identified two: semizotu and celeriac. This week we are looking at bakla – broad beans, which are also known as fava beans.
Celebrating the broad bean
Sadly, fresh broad beans have become a less common sight on the dining table in recent years, unless it’s a table that belongs to a gardening enthusiast or someone who buys their vegetables from a farmers’ market.
In Fethiye, although they can be bought dry – as fava – throughout the year, they remain a very popular seasonal vegetable.
So, without more ado, here are some recipes that celebrate the magnificent broad bean.
Broad beans cooked with their coats on: zeytinyağlı bakla
It would astonish most Turkish cooks or foodies to ask whether it is safe or even possible to eat broad beans pods but believe it or not this question is being asked – and answered. Of course, a wonderful Turkish recipe is given as an example. We like the colour by the way.
In western Turkey young bakla are cooked in olive oil – and their coats are left on. Served with plenty of dill (deriotu) and yogurt, it is a delicious maze. Our favourite recipe follows the same method as this one by the excellent Seasonal Cook in Turkey blog.
This spread, or dip, is popular in Turkey and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean. It can be made with fresh broad beans or with dried bakla.
Bakla Köftesi – broad bean fritters
2 cups boiled fresh beans
A handful of parsley and dill
3-4 scallions (spring onions)
Salt, cumin, red pepper, black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon wholewheat flour
If you have the time and energy pop the broad beans out of their delicate skins
Roughly puree the ingredients in a food processor
Fry in a hot non-stick pan using a little olive oil only if required
serve this dish with yogurt or a dressing made from 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 scant teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. But if you are looking for something different they are also delicious with a spicy sauce made from Sriracha (hot pepper sauce), soy sauce and tahini.
Here is the same recipe in Turkish from the Doğal ve Kolay (Natural and Easy) blog.
Are broad beans good for us?
They certainly are! So buy them whenever and wherever you see them. Not only are they full of goodness, buying them will support Fethiye’s greengrocers and Turkey’s farmers.
For more information about their health benefits, click here.
The Guardian also explains why these beans are so good for you.
NB Please do read this important information before you eat broad bean pods if you are taking MAOI antidepressants.