Monday, June 10, 2013

A Moroccan Mezze: Fava Bean Hummus

Similar to Middle Eastern hummus, Moroccan Byesar uses fava beans, also known as broad beans, instead of chickpeas. Fresh favas, with their faintly sweet, herbal flavour and beautiful pale green color, bring a bright, almost grassy, note to this classic mezze. Light and creamy, the spread is made from a blend of cooked, hulled fava beans mixed with garlic, spices, herbs and olive oil to produce a smooth paste that's typically served with warm pita bread. Just before serving, the purée is traditionally drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with crushed za'atar, a North African spice mixture of ground dried thyme, marjoram and oregano. Rich and varied, Moroccan cuisine has evolved from centuries of foreign influence, from Berber, Spanish, Corsican and Portuguese, to Mediterranean, Turkish, Arabic and African. Healthy, low fat and gluten-free, this delicious Fava Bean Hummus makes an exciting prelude to an exotic evening of Moroccan mezze shared with family and friends.

Moroccan Fava Bean Hummus
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 cup fresh fava beans
2 cloves garlic

1 shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tsp kosher or Maldon sea salt
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Fresh mint for garnish

Place the shelled fava beans in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, then drain, peel and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer the beans, garlic and shallot to a food processor and blend until ground. Add the lemon juice, salt, cumin, cayenne, olive oil and pepper to taste, and purée until smooth, adding a little more oil or water if you prefer a silkier consistency. Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, to allow the flavours to meld. Once chilled, adjust the seasoning and garnish with a mint leaf and chive blossom. Serve with crudités, crackers or toasted pita as part of a mezze or appetizer with cocktails.

NOTE: For a classic Tunisian variation, harissa can be added to the purée and garnished with some cayenne pepper.