Beans are magical talisman and objects of beauty and represent a midpoint between past and future.  They are jewels of life.  Sprouting them in the long dark days of winter is a kind of ritual of hope.

I was excited to learn that in Egypt people sprout dried favas (broad beans) before cooking them, as a way to boost nutrition.  To give it a try, I sprouted some of the Hodmedod’s British-grown favas (dried broad beans) which can be played as a kind of ersatz maraca in the kitchen.


You soak the beans in water overnight, then drain them, and rinse off maybe twice a day for a few days, at which time, the life force can no longer be contained and a small sprouting of new life breaks open the  shell.  Really very very cute!



I wasn’t in the position to do anything with these sprouted beans, and left them for several more days.  Maybe they were a millimetre too long but I decided it didn’t matter.  I had about three cups.  My heart was full.


Searching around the amusement park that is the web I found this amazing recipe for a kind of savoury Shanghai snack of sprouted dried fava beans. You stew them in water and ginger and sherry and fish sauce (of course you could just use soya sauce) (and I think a variation with miso would be amazing) and lots of chopped spring onions sauteed, in my case, in an ersatz combination of coconut oil and olive oil.



and you simmer then you let them cool.  They are lovely little salty sweet umami nuggets to lift with your chopsticks and place into your mouth.


After making this dish, I simply boiled the remaining bean sprouts, as recommended in this lovely piece about eating in Egypt– with onions and garlic and cumin.  The strained broth was really lovely and would be a great stock or even a kind of wonderful vegan consomme– truly that flavourful.


I considered trying to be Egyptian and eating the boiled beans on a sandwich, and thought as well to just throw them in a salad.  I enjoyed popping them out of their cases.  Apparently dried fava beans must be eaten cooked (ie, not raw sprouts) but have something in them that’s very good for helping with Parkinson’s Disease.



As supper time rolled around, and I’d had a strange post-Christmas day obsessed with fava beans, I needed to think about some kind of green vegetable, and we had some kale asking to be used.  Inspired by this Carluccio recipe for Maccu, a very old and echt-tasting dish, I reversed the beans and greens proportions and made something I record here, without humility, as really, really tasty:


Forgive the bad photo with all the glorious steam on the lens.

I basically sauteed a lot of sliced garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil, added the kale (removed from stems), kind of pan fried then added salt and fava bean water and mashed beans, as pictured above.  It was a wonderful plate of kale, stewy and spicy. Truly.  Believe me.

Here’s maybe NOT a better picture of my husband’s plate of the kale cooked in the boiled broad beans along with the Shanghai Favas, on some brown basmati because that’s what there was.


Here’s yet another bad photo, of a nice spaghetti dish with tomatoes and cauliflower and carrots and the spicy kale all chopped up.  Really good!   The little ones ate this.  I had a bit of everything.  It was a day of greens and beans from around the world.



Now, a kind of postscript.  I’d like to try the Maccu recipe on the Hodmedod’s site which uses fennel leaves.  Carluccio in his Maccu uses Cima di Rapa, which is described as a kind of turnip top.  I always understood it to be like Broccoli Rabe, a vegetable I love and have never seen in the Britain. But I’ve tried to grow it, with these seeds, and unsuccessfully ended up feeding the white butterflies of summer.  This is what my plants, originally seeded last spring, are looking like as ragged survivors in late December.  Anyone with any brassica knowledge, I am open to advice!