Syrian Meatballs in a Green Fava Bean Stew. Recipe contributor: Nir Dudek │Photograph: Daniel Lailah │Styling: Talia Gon Assif
Syrian Meatballs in a Green Fava Bean Stew. Recipe contributor: Nir Dudek │Photograph: Daniel Lailah │Styling: Talia Gon Assif
Recipe

Syrian Meatballs in a Green Fava Bean Stew

Real Syrians miss two things from home: fava beans and grandma's meatballs.

Fresh green fava beans only take a minute to cook. When they are not in season, they can be substituted with frozen green fava beans or regular brown beans (see below). The meatball mixture is the same one used for Syrian kebabs, only here they are cooked rather than grilled. Please note – avoid oversalting. If the meat is kosher, use less salt than the suggested amounts in the recipe.

Ingredients for Meatballs in Green Fava Bean Stew

For the meatballs:

  • 2.7 pounds (1.2kg) ) premium quality ground beef
  • 1½ tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • ½ bunch parsley leaves finely chopped
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • oil for frying

For the sauce:

  • 1½ (360ml) cups water
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 28 ounces (800 grams) green fava beans

Serve with:

  • 1 lemon cut into six wedges
  • ½ cup (50 grams) pistachio nuts , shelled, roasted and coarsely chopped

Instructions

Preparing the meatballs:

  • 1. Mix all the ingredients except for the oil into a homogeneous mixture and season. Form into meatballs the size of an unshelled walnut.

  • 2. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and fry the meatballs over a medium flame, turning them over until they brown on all sides. Each time you turn them over, remove the pine nuts remaining in the skillet. If needed, add a little more oil or discard the used oil and add fresh oil. Transfer the fried meatballs to a wide-bottomed pot.

Preparing the sauce:

  • 3. Add the water, lemon juice and salt to the pot containing the meatballs and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes in lightly boiling water until the meatballs are cooked inside as well. Using a ladle, discard most of the sauce and leave just a small amount.

Preparing the beans:

  • 4. In a different pot of boiling water, blanch the green fava beans for about a minute. Rinse and remove the translucent skins (if you're in a rush, you can skip removing the skins).

  • 5. Add the beans to the pot containing the meatballs and heat together for about a minute. Season.

  • 6. Serve with the lemon wedges and sprinkle pistachio nuts on top. The dish goes great with rice or with a small amount of pickled turnips on the side.

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Variations:

Replace the pine nuts with finely chopped walnuts.

Add ¼ teaspoon of cardamon and a pinch of ground cloves to the meatball mixture.

Meatballs with brown beans – the original version

Syrian grandmothers viewed with disdain recipes that called for peeling every bean and cooking them for a minute, even if that meant their color would be preserved. The grandmothers would leave the peel on and cook the beans and the meatballs together. They didn’t care if the beans came out looking pale. And they were right – they taste a lot better. For a less attractive and even more delicious version, they would use large and dried brown beans. The beans should be soaked, cooked in a separate pot until they soften, and then drained and salted. Add them to the meatballs before serving.

This recipe is courtesy of Hashulchan.

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