Fava Bean and Pumpkin Seed Dip with Crudities and Grilled Flatbread
When it is just too damn hot to turn on the oven or tend the grill, pairing hearty, bean-based dips with icy cold soups creates fabulous alternative menus for quick summer meals. In this recipe, buttery, tender fava beans are combined with rich pumpkin seeds to form the dip's foundation, which is flavored with mild, roasted garlic, fresh dill and lemon. Refreshing and filling, this dish works well with salty feta cheese, raw crunchy or water-based veggies, such as julienned carrot, celery and cucumbers; matchstick bell peppers strips; whole green or black olives and grilled flatbread.
Originating in Israel, fava beans go by a variety of monikers: Broad bean, Pigeon bean, English or Windsor bean, Field bean, Tic bean and Horse bean— and these lovely, pea-green pulses are packed with nutrients. While most beans are healthy (a good source of fiber and lean protein), these unique legumes have additional health benefits: they contain active chemical compounds currently being researched for treating or managing Parkinson’s, osteoporosis and hypertension. Fava beans increase levels of L-dopa, a chemical that improves motor function. Some studies are touting fava beans as an alternative, or complementary treatment, to synthetic drugs. Fava beans are also a good source of magnesium, which helps lower high blood pressure, and manganese, a mineral that may offset bone loss—all good reasons for becoming familiar with this oft-neglected legume! A culinary trick to get this “veggie-centric” dish on the table in 15 minutes or less: use a mandoline to prep the veggies—my fav brand is the Japanese Benrine.
The flavor profile of this versatile dip is mild, rich and hearty all at the same time, but you can easily change it up by using different aromatics— play with grilled onions, or use bold-tasting herbs, such as mint and basil. Adding grilled mild chili peppers like poblano, pasilla, mild Hatch, New Mexico or Anaheim peppers, will lend a smoky, vegetal hit. If you crave “heat,” as I do, try using blistered Fresno, serrano or jalapeños as the add-on. What I do not sub-out is Melissa’s steamed fava beans—they are lower in sodium compared to canned fava beans. The steaming process maintains that “fresh” fava bean texture and flavor: tender, rich and buttery— never mushy.
Fava Bean Dip
Serves: 2 as a main; 4 as an appetizer
1 package Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed, Ready–to-Eat Fava Beans
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 heaping tablespoons good-quality mayo (I recommend Best Foods or Hellman’s)
6 cloves roasted garlic
2 tablespoons labneh
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon kosher flake salt
¼ cup filtered water
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
2 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
Remove fava beans from package and place in a large mesh strainer over the sink, then rinse and drain. Place fava beans, garlic, labneh, mayo, pumpkin seeds, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice in a high–efficiency blender or Ninja Bullet, and blend several times until a creamy, thick paste forms. If the mixture gets too thick, you may need to add water and scrap down several times.
Remove fava bean dip from blender and place in the center of a serving plate or bowl. Place the back of a large serving spoon on top of the fava bean dip and move outward in a circle to create a fava bean circle or swirl pattern.
Top with minced dill and toasted pumpkin or pine nut seeds. Serve with flatbreads, cut raw veggies, feta cheese and olives.
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch strips
3 Persian cucumbers, cut into medium julienne-cut
1 yellow or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/3-inch strips
3 red radishes, cut into thin slices
Place sliced veggies, olives and cheese on a serving plate. Serve alongside the fava bean dip.