3 Mar 2008

Broad Beans a Protein Source

The broad bean, also known as the fava bean, has been a valuable source of protein for thousands of years. They were found by archaeologists in Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements and it is known that the gladiators of Rome were fed a mixture of broad beans and barley to give them strength for battle.

They contain protein, vitamins A and C, fiber, copper, niacin, potassium, iron and folate. Fresh broad beans contain more of these nutrients than dried. They also contain L-dopa, a chemical the body uses to produce dopamine*. As they contain few amino acids they should always be combined with cereals to make them a whole food.

*Dopamine : A neurotransmitter formed in the brain and essential to the normal functioning of the central nervous system.

Broad beans can be easily grown in any temperate climate. They also enrich the soil with nitrogen wherever they are grown. It is worth while growing your own, as there is nothing like fresh broad beans lightly steamed, as a vegetable or added to salads. If you are unable to grow them, try and purchase organic broad beans, fresh from the farmers markets, as they quickly lose their flavor each day that passes after picking. They can be kept up to a week in in the fridge or can be frozen.

When out of season, dried organic broad beans are available at many health shops and large supermarkets. The fresh beans are also available canned, bottled and frozen in some areas.


Broad Bean Pate
From the Vegetarian Society

2lb/900g fresh broad beans, shelled
2tsp/10ml ground coriander
2tsp/10ml ground cumin
2tsp/10ml turmeric
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
4tbsp/60ml olive oil
salt and pepper

Cook the beans in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Place the beans and spices in a liquidiser and blend for 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and garlic, thin the mixture with a little of the reserved liquid, to form a thick purée. Gradually stir in the oil a little at a time, until the desired thickness of pâté is reached. Season to taste and serve with crudités or bread and a sprinkle of turmeric.

Fava Bean Salad with Fresh Sage and Lemon
From Experience Plus. Recipe submitted by Ellen Brinks.
Here's a recipe that features the wonderful taste of fresh sage and makes a delicious picnic or potluck offering, good fare on the hiking trail, or a main-dish at lunch. If you use canned fava
beans, it can be made in minutes.

3 cups dried fava beans (or four 12-14 oz/350g cans, drained and rinsed)
juice of 2 large lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 generous tablespoons fresh, chopped sage
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

If using dried fava beans, rinse and put in a large soup pot. Cover the beans with a few inches of water. Let stand overnight (or use the quick soak method: bring to a rapid boil for 2 minutes, turn off heat, and let soak at least an hour, preferably three or four). When you're ready to cook the beans, drain the soaking water, cover with a few inches of fresh water, and cook until firm yet tender. It should take about two hours. Try not to overcook, or they'll break easily when you mix them with the dressing. If you use canned beans, it's much quicker. Simply drain and rinse the beans. Put the cooked fava beans in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and fresh sage. Stir gently but thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. For the best flavor, let stand about an hour so the flavors meld. 8 sevings.

Fava Bean Soup Recipe
From BellaOnline by Paula Laurita
As the weather turns cold, warm up with this hearty soup.

1/2lb/250g dried white fava beans
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 redskin potatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 sweet red pepper, diced (save a little for garnish)
1 garlic clove, minced
5 sprigs rosemary (1 for the soup, 4 for garnish)
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp of fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground, black pepper
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 quarts/3 litres vegetable stock

In a stock pot, soak the beans in the stock for 6-8 hours in the refrigerator. When the beans are soft add the olive oil, 1 sprig of rosemary, thyme, salt, and the bring mixture to a slow simmer. # Cover, but let the pot vent so the beans don't foam up, and simmer about 90 minutes (until the beans are almost tender). Add the remaining ingredients and continue to simmer the beans for another 20-30 minutes, until both potatoes and beans are completely tender. Serve in a wide bowl, garnish with diced red pepper and rosemary. Serves 4.

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Marshamlow said...

The soup and pate sound really good. Thanks for the recipes, I can't wait to try them.

Prixie said...

i finally found tofu. any great recipes you may have for using it?


Naomi said...

Another great post Jackie. I like broad beans too, although they don't seem to be as popular in England as they used to be. People forget what a great source of protein they are. I look forward to trying out those great recipes!

Urban Vegan said...

What a great idea to make pate with favas. I always cook them from fresh--but unpeeling them is so time consuming. I hoenstly didn't know you could buy them frozen.

Marion said...

My favourites are the fresh broad beans, and your pate recipe sounds delicious!

Rose&Thorn said...

Thanks for the info on the broad beans. I got some in my weekly organic wild box, didn't know what to do with them, ended up over boiling them, they tasted terrible. I hope I see them again, so I can give it another try.

Mihl said...

I am definitely going to try the pate recipe!

Debo Hobo said...

I recently saw a video at that shows how cruely animals are treated for our 'benefit' and so I am definitely looking for alternative sources of protien. Thanks for these recipes. :)

Joy said...

I love broad beans, I usually eat the packed 'popped' ones which negates the healthiness of it because of all the oil and salt. Thanks for sharing these recipes...I'm interested in making the soup!

Totoro said...

Hi My name is TOTORO.Your site is very interesting
I will visit again.Please link to my site.Thank you.

maxi said...

I noticed you were South African. Are there any Vegan/ Raw networking events that you know of. I am in Potchefstroom and am new to Vegan/ Raw food diet.

Jackie said...

Maxi, there is a website for the South African Vegan Society. It is . It has a message board where you could ask if anyone in your area. I do not know of any Raw groups here yet.

Pollydot said...

This is the first time that I have seen the vegan diet up close. Your blog is extremely interesting and I like the idea of the recipes. It's a really lovely mixture of useful information, pictures and recipes. :o)

Health, Fitness, Science said...

I find too much eating of protein like beans can cause arthritis. This is beause beans are high in uric acid.

Everything that is too much is bad.. Thanks for the information

Sharon Lynne said...

Very interesting...about the beans.

They look a little like lima beans. When my boys were young they didn't like the taste and would swallow them whole!

They might like these beans better.

dreamy said...

The pate sounds good :)

Tam said...

Hi There
So glad to have stumbled across this site - I have been a vegetarian since October and battling to get enough protein I can't stomach dairy and have found I am tired as my protein intake is too low. As I am in SA I battle to find local food that is as good as US or UK can get. So I'm happy to find you!

Wheeler said...

Thanks for the recipes! I've seen these beans in the store and wondered what I could use them for, and now I have some great things to try.

Juan said...

Where can I buy broad beans please I'm from NYC I'm desperate to get it any info?

Jackie said...

Juan,you are in a city with everything food wise so I am sure you can find them canned or dried in a good deli there. Look out for them fresh in Summer.