Passover is right by the doorstep. The entire country is now in a fully blown OCD cleaning craze (they don’t call it spring clean for nothing). As per usual they are caught out in a sand storm the day before anything and everything has been boiled, bleached, disinfected and purified . Despite my affection for a good clean up, I’m happier in the kitchen where spring is in full bloom and in all its glory in preparation for the Spring celebrations, now underway, consisting on the most part of local and seasonal ingredients. That is, if I count out the (not Kosher by any account) chorizo. Even I have my limits and passing on a chorizo is one of them, so we're having it grace us with its presence in the table.
Lets not forget the cultural, traditional and religious ban on leavened goods during passover when anything made with any kind of cereal, including flour is a no-no. This has the potential of a disaster but mainly, it poses an interesting challenge when planning the festive dinner. however, with the cornucopia of seasonal produce available this time of the year one wouldn't even notice its absence. Green fava beans, green peas, green garlic and green almonds have the stage all to themselves, all lights are on them, au naturale and in the nude without bread, dough or pasta to outshine and overcast their glory.
Shopping lists have been written and crossed off as one by one all the products and ingredients are piling up. A 2kg happy reared leg of lamb? Check. 1kg of fresh chicken livers for making chopped liver? Check. Enough wine for 12 thirsty diners (who also happen to be my close family)? Check. What better way to celebrate Spring then by cooking it, serving it on a plate and eating it?
hummus- ful is a highly popular local combination of cooked and mashed dried fava beans seasoned and served over hummus with pita bread on the side. Both chickpeas and fava beans have been cultivated and consumed in the area since the beginning of times. This is as local as food gets; cheap, nourishing and satisfying resulting in both staples gaining mythological status in the local cuisine.
This is my deconstructed, springtime version of hummus- ful.
Springtime hummus- ful
2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of water, then strained
1 garlic clove
Several sage leaves
2 cups green fava beans, removed from their pod
1 ripe avocado
1 green chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 scallion, finely chopped
Zest from ½ lemon
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped. If in season, use green garlic
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lemon, juiced
Coriander leaves, washed
A handful of pistachios, roasted in a dry skillet and coarsely chopped
Sheep’s milk ricotta or other fresh cheese, crumbled
- Prepare the chickpeas: place the strained chickpeas in a large saucepan. Add the garlic clove and sage leaves, cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil, skimming off the froth. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. When the chickpeas are soft but not mushy, remove from the heat and strain.
- Prepare the fava beans: bring a large saucepan with plenty of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. Blanche the fava beans for 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the beans to the ice water, to stop them from cooking further. remove the beans’ outer shell.
- Heat a large frying pan with a little oil and lightly fry the cooked chickpeas, until they are tanned.
- In a large bowl mix the fried chickpeas and fava beans together. Using a teaspoons, scoop the avocado into the bowl.
- Add the chopped chili pepper, scallion, lemon zest and garlic. Season with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
- Sprinkle the coriander leaves, chopped pistachio and crumbled cheese and serve.