This easy and adaptable dish is from Anissa Helou’s Lebanese Cuisine. We had a pound of fava beans and a pound of meat, so we doubled the recipe, which calls for half a pound of each. The recipe is actually for lamb, but we had beef so that’s what we used. We also combined onions and shallots. I’m relating the recipe here the way that we made it.
1 lb stew beef, chopped into small bite-sized cubes
4 tbs butter
1 chopped onion
1 chopped shallot
1 16 oz. can fava beans
2 cups arborio rice
generous pinch of cinnamon
generous pinch of ground allspice
small grind of black pepper
generous pinch of salt
5 cups water
Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Saute the onion and shallot until they are soft. Add the meat and let it brown. Add the beans, spices and water and bring them to a boil. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then stir in the rice and cover the pot again. Simmer for 20 minutes, but make sure to check halfway through in case it needs more water. When it’s done, let it cool and thicken for a minute. Then serve with yogurt and pita bread. We stirred some chopped fresh scallion into the yogurt for added flavor.
This recipe makes quite a lot of food– I plan to have the leftovers for lunch this week. It’s a simple, nourishing dish and the flavors are comforting but not complicated. I was trying to stick to the recipe, but I think you could use olive oil in place of the butter to make a healthier dish without sacrificing too much flavor. Helou also recommends adding vegetables such as zucchini or carots, or using green beans in place of the fava beans. You could easily adapt this dish to use whatever vegetable you happen to have, and replace the meat with a vegetable for a vegetarian version.
Incidentally, we ate this while watching Pan’s Labyrinth, which is complicated and not comforting, but an excellent movie. It’s a fairy tale for grownups set in fascist Franco-era Spain. If you haven’t seen it, get on that.
Also, let me know what you all think about the new template– I’m doing a little experimentation.