Friday, 10 May 2013

Spicy Ethiopian Fava Beans

Belonging to a book club has been one of the better decisions I have made.  For years I thought I would enjoy this experience, but with young kids and a shift working husband it just wasn't feasible.  In the fall of 2011 I took a leap and sent an email invite to eight women asking if they would consider joining me in a book club.  I thought maybe four would say yes, and we would have a quaint little discussion group. Instead, all women said yes and we haven't looked back since.

What has evolved in those months since inception is nothing short of special.  We spend plenty of time talking about the book, our likes and dislikes and how the book mirrors our own lives.  And that's usually when the conversation moves into something more personal, more real.  As moms and wives we are so quick to put our own needs last.  In those few hours set aside to attend "book club" I find myself surrounded by individuals in similar circumstances. Sure, we listen to parenting dilemmas and compare school approaches.  We complain about being busy and over scheduling our kids.  But somewhere in the middle of all of that, we have started to expose ourselves.  Our fears and our dreams intertwine with the characters in a book.  We laugh and cry, sometimes both at once, as we hear one another.  It is a circle of trust that has become something bigger than the books and greater than the discussion. 

Plus, we eat great food.  Our last book was Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese was set in Ethiopia.  Walking into our book club host Jackie's home she casually mentioned she had whipped up the "national dish of Ethiopia".  It was a feast like no other and I was smitten with the unusual spice blend known as berbere she had used to make a few dishes.  Mixing spice blends appeals to me (see my za'atar obsession as example one).  The heat of the blend will depend on how many dried chiles you use.  Once you have a batch made it will keep for 6 months in a cool dry place.  Alternately, a fine food shop will sell it already mixed for you.
One Year Ago: Coconut Gluten Free Cupcakes

Spicy Ethiopian Fava Beans

adapted from Toronto Star
Note: if cooking fava beans fresh a great tutorial can be found here.  Alternately, sub in shelled frozen edamame.  This can be served as a salad or in a wrap or on a bun.  Our preference was in the wrap with some chopped hard boiled egg added.

 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup water
2 cups shelled fava beans (see note above) or frozen shelled edamame
1/4 cup Greek plain yogurt
1/2 cup tomato, diced
fresh parsley (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the berbere, salt and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the water and scrape and browned bits from the bottom.  Add the fava beans, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes. If the fava beans don’t break down, mash them with a wooden spoon. 
Divide the fava bean mixture between 2 bowls or 2 wraps. Top each with large dollop of yogurt a pile of tomato and fresh parsley.


  1. That is one of the things I have enjoyed most about our book club is the personal experiences that come out when discussing the books we read.

    1. so true- I never would have predicted how vunerable we allow ourselves to be in the book club forum. it's a special place. my only regret is that it took me so long to create one