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Beans, heavenly messages

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  • 4 minutes of reading
It is native to Persia and Africa and has been consumed since ancient times, especially in the Mediterranean area on both shores of the Mare Nostrum.
The ancient Egyptians called bean fields the place where souls awaited reincarnation. And in the 6th century Pythagoras, inventor of the word 'philosophy', refused to flee from his murderers, crossing a field of beans, absolutely accepting an important taboo.
For the Greeks and Romans, however, in contrast to these initiatory communities, the beans represented the favors, the graces of the afterlife. If beans were offered in sacrifices, they allowed communication with the invisible, in the spring and planting festivals.
At weddings, a ritual offering of beans was made, where each bean represented a desired male child. Don't get your hopes up: they are not aphrodisiacs. But in addition to its symbolic richness, the bean is rich in proteins and vitamins, and even dried, it is the most nutritious of all legumes.
Revalued by contemporary chefs, it has always symbolized, for most people, the embryo, the future.
Spring legumes are good in salads, braised, pureed, with pasta or risotti. They accept good deals with wines. This is their best moment: they appear in spring, fresh and succulent, and last all summer. They are removed from the pod and, after boiling them lightly, they are peeled a second time, removing that white, elastic layer that covers them.
Good when they are small and tender, even to eat raw, with coarse salt as the Italians and Spaniards do.
Or to make scrambled eggs with ham and those minimum fresh items bought in the Madrid markets where it is a very popular dish, like all scrambled eggs.
When they are so fresh, you don't even have to cook them beforehand, just peel them.
Dried beans must be soaked for 12 hours before cooking and are even higher in calories (334 Kal per 100g).
Broad bean puree as an accompaniment to a pork rôti, scented with sage and lightened with a little broth and a pinch of sugar, is one of the classic uses of regional French cuisine.
Cold in salads, seasoned only with olive, a hint of garlic, chopped parsley and a pinch of cumin, they are very good as a garnish for baby back ribs or gigot (leg) of lamb.
Perfect in a lamb stew, spiced in the Moroccan style with cumin, cinnamon and saffron, or sautéed in olive and garlic and braised, along with artichoke hearts and fresh peas, another Maghreb dish.
To cook them this way, you must add a little water, mixed with paprika. A handful of rice is added to give consistency to the dish. Finished with fresh chopped cilantro. A perfect entry.
Dolli Irigoyen makes a light risotto, with olive oil instead of butter and sautéed leeks, she incorporates beans and peas, in the middle of cooking, with a good poultry broth and right at the end, she processes more beans and peas with olive oil. olive and adds them.
In Verona I tried a spectacular pasta: farfalle (little bows) with broad beans and sautéed calameretti, in olive, pine nuts and raisins, seasoned with saffron.
As pairings, Ricardo Santos proposes for the lamb stew with broad beans, a specialty, his Malbec of course. The one from the 2006 vintage that just appeared, spectacular.
And with pasta the new Sangiovese from Escorihuela Gascón. Better than a Chianti.
In Buenos Aires they are available, out of their pod, and in little boxes, in boutique greengrocers or in the tempting stalls of Bolivian ladies.
A los egipcios, el resto del mundo árabe los llaman, de manera peyorativa: “comedores de habas”, porque las cocinan al vapor y las sirven con comino.
Now, we can all be Egyptians.

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