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Local Eats

Home Cooking & Takeout in Roslindale, West Roxbury and Beyond

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Better than Mashed Potato Surprise

Braised Spring Legumes
Lidia’s Italian Table, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Wm. Morrow & Co., NY, 1998.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped scallions, white and tender parts, about 6 scallions
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 1/2 pounds fresh peas in pod, shelled
1 1/4 pounds fresh fava beans in the pod, prepared*
1 cup finely diced zucchini
1/2 teaspoon peperoncino (crushed red pepper)
Salt
2 cups thinly sliced romaine leaves (use outer leaves)
1 tablespoon finely shredded mint leaves

In a large, heavy casserole with a tight-fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and onions and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the peas, fava beans, zucchini, and peperoncino and season lightly with salt. Stir well, reduce the heat to low, and cover the casserole tightly. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the romaine and mint, cover the casserole, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes more. The vegetables should give off enough moisture during cooking to prevent sticking or burning. If you find they are sticking, you can add a few tablespoons of water. Make sure the heat is very low and the pot is tightly covered before continuing to cook. If is fine, however, if the vegetables do brown a little. Season to taste with salt and serve hot.

*To prepare favas:

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil while you shell the beans. Snap the stem off each pod and use it to pull off the string that runs the length of the pod along the seam. Open the pod along this seam and brush the beans into a bowl.

Add the beans to the boiling water and cook them just until you can see a dark spot in the center of the bean’s skin, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans and refresh them with cold water until cool enough to handle. Drain well. With a paring knife, pull off the dark, crescent-shaped marking at one of each bean. Squeeze the bean out through this opening.

>>>S, a fellow community gardener, gave me some of his fava beans. I ended up making this without them because the tender home-grown favas disintegrated in processing. It's still delicious.

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