Fava Beans, Potatoes and Saffron Rice with Feta Cheese and Fresh Herbs – Recipe

Saffron rice, crispy potatoes, feta and fresh herbs

I’m a fool for foul. Not foul like “and now I get to shoot free throws”.Foul muddamas prounced “fool”, which is the word for fava beans throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Like most beans, the fresh and dried versions are radically different. Fresh favas are mild and sweet, tasting something like a cross between a baby pea and a lima bean. And they are a royal pain in the butt to peel.

But I digress. The dish in the picture above is made with dried fava beans, in this case from a can. The variety is smaller and rounder than the lima-shaped fresh version we most often get in this country. The cans should be available at any good Middle Eastern market, or buy dried and boil them yourselves. The canned product should be thorougly rinsed, and then simmered a bit with a little lemon juice to optimize the flavor and ensure tenderness.

For this dinner I paired them with some crispy sauteed potatoes, feta cheese and fresh herbs over saffron rice. It seemed like a Persian dish to me though I don’t know if is traditional. Any Persians out there want to comment?

I’ve noticed that a lot of Americans have in the back of their mind that they shouldn’t serve potatoes and rice together because they are both “starches”. It is common practice in much of the world though. Think of aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) with rice for example. Personally I think they can be delicious together.

Fava Beans, Potatoes and Saffron Rice
Vegetarian and gluten-free; vegan if you omit the feta cheese
Serves 4 as a main course

  • pinch saffron
  • 1.5 cups basmati rice
  • 1 large (28 oz.) or 2 small (15 oz.) cans fava beans
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 large handful fresh dill, minced
  • 1 large handful fresh mint, chiffonade
  • salt as needed
  1. Crumble the saffron between your fingers and cover with a 1/4 cup of hot water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Make the basmati rice in your usual way (rice cooker or stovetop), including the saffron water as part of the regular volume of water.
  2. Drain and thorougly rinse the fava beans. Bring them to a simmer with the lemon juice and a little water, and salt if needed. If they are already quite tender, just a few minutes is fine. If they are a little tough you might want to let them go for half an hour.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame, and fry the potatoes in a single layer, tossing occasionally until tender, crispy, and golden brown. Add salt as needed. Add the garlic and cumin powder and cook for one more minute.
  4. To serve, fill each bowl with 1 cup of rice, and top with 1/4 of the beans and 1/4 of the potatoes. Drizzle with a bit more of the extra-virgin olive oil if you like. Top with the feta and herbs.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, April 9th, 2009 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

5 Responses to “Fava Beans, Potatoes and Saffron Rice with Feta Cheese and Fresh Herbs – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    April 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    I’ve never cooked dried favas. This sounds delicious, and I like the use of dill.

  2. Reply
    April 10, 2009 at 5:25 am #

    You always make things that look so refreshing and appetizing 🙂 I really like the way this looks so FRESH! Love the flavors too. Simple and yet so elegant.

  3. Reply
    April 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

    Love the carb on carb action. I could even imagine taking it one step further and adding hummus on top. Mmmmm

  4. Reply
    April 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

    Oh fava beans, I always feel they are worth the trouble. This looks so refreshing and delicious for a spring meal

  5. Reply
    Ronnie B.
    December 25, 2014 at 3:17 am #

    I’m all for double carbs but have to point out that Alu Gobi is a poor example. In fact, you are wrong. Alu Gobi is NEVER eaten with rice, rather with roti/chapati/paratha. Westerners might eat it with rice, but that is not traditional.

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