Middle Eastern Dilled Fava Beans (Bagila)
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a staple in the Middle East. Besides being very good for you, they are also quite delicious! They are not only high in protein (packing nine grams in a half cup serving), but they’re also low in carbs. Why is it that more people don’t include these nutritious legumes in their diet? Sadly, if it wasn’t for Anthony Hopkin’s mention of them in the movie “Silence of the Lambs,” most Americans wouldn’t know they exist! I’m hoping to do my part in changing that with this post.
“Ful medames” is a similar Middle Eastern fava bean dish. The beans are mashed and mixed with olive oil and lemon juice, instead of being served whole. Traditionally, ful medames is served as “Mezza,” which refers to a variety of appetizers served with alcohol. Other mezza dishes include hummus, tabouli, and bourak (Assyrian egg rolls). Ful medames is one of those dishes that makes me think of my dad, who passed away when I was in boot camp, when I was eighteen years old. Whenever he entertained his friends, mom would put out a delicious mezza spread that always included ful medames. Isn’t it funny how food can be tied to so many of our childhood memories?
Are Fava Beans the Same as Lima Beans?
Fava beans come in various sizes, and colors. Although they get mistaken for lima beans, they are definitely not the same thing. It’s true that they both grow in pods, but they taste nothing alike! Fresh fava beans are green, while the canned variety are brown. I wish it was easier to find the fresh variety. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to find them at Middle Eastern markets. Luckily, canned fava beans are pretty readily available. Fava beans have a skin covering them, and lima beans do not. The thin “skin” covering fava beans can either be peeled off or eaten. Personally, I prefer eating the skin, because who doesn’t need a little more fiber in their diet, am I right?
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Middle Eastern mezza/appetizer. Fava beans with a delicious lemony dill dressing.
- 20 oz. can large fava beans
- 1 medium lemon juiced
- 3 T. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried mint (optional)
- Drain and rinse fava beans and add to a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Pour the lemon and olive oil mixture over the Fava beans, and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle with dill weed, and mint, if using. Mix in to incorporate the flavors.
- Allow to marinate for at least an hour before serving.