I read somewhere that people who eat fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans) have a ridiculously high life expectancy. Not sure how many beans and how often you have to eat them but I’m pretty sure they are super healthy. I first stumbled upon fresh fava beans when I moved to Germany, and to my embarrassment it took a really long time until I realized that these giant beans, called “Dicke Bohnen” (fat beans) or “Saubohnen” (super beans, which literally translated could actually be sow–as in miss piggy–beans) were actually favas. A Mediterranean staple for centuries, these take a bit of tackling with all that shucking, then blanching, and finally peeling back the skin from each individual bean, but they’re well worth the extra effort.
I know that a number of people actually don’t go through the effort of removing the translucent skin, but it’s really up to you. They are just as tasty with it and a whole lot easier to eat, but they are a lovely green color and definitely look better peeled!
This recipe is a creation based on an Asian-inspired quinoa salad my Aunt tried and absolutely loved in a Vancouver restaurant a few months back. She’ll have to taste this for herself and let me know if it’s anything close to the real thing. She said her’s was served like a top hat, mine isn’t even close. Even if not, this was super delicious! Kale isn’t in season right now, so I just used a mix of young wild greens and spinach.
This recipe is easily transformed into a vegetarian dish by substituting the chicken for smoked or fried tofu.
Asian Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Fava Beans & Wild Baby Greens
For the salad:
2 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts halves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa (200 g)
2 cups chicken broth (480 ml)
1 cup fava beans (from about 1 lb / 500 g pods), or double-peeled frozen, thawed (100 g shelled)
2 handfuls kale or mix of salad greens such as baby beet leaves, mizuna, or tatsoi
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
handful walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (alternatively, toasted cashews work well too!)
For the Asian-style dressing:
4 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soya sauce or tamari
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped coriander (15 g)
1. In a large saucepan, add the quinoa and chicken broth along with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, shell the fava beans and cook in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to a colander in ice water. Allow the beans to cool for several minutes. Tear off a bit of the skin or split the skin with a sharp paring knife and slip off the translucent skin by squeezing gently (the waxy coating will slip right off) and place in a large bowl along with the salad greens.
3. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and and brown the chicken breasts, about 3 to 4 minutes per side (depending on size of the breasts) until cooked through and golden brown. As cooking season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Tip: when the chicken is done it springs back when pressed in the center.) Transfer to a plate.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the salad dressing ingredients until well combined.
5. Slice the chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes and add to the fava bean and salad mixture, along with the toasted nuts. Pour dressing over the salad and gently toss until well coated.
6. Spread the quinoa evenly distributed on the salad plates, arrange the salad on top. Serve and enjoy!