Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My first time cooking with taze bakla (fresh fava beans) was disappointing here in Istanbul.

Similar to those moments when I spot a beautiful dessert or pastry at a pastane, but when I eat it, the dessert is dry, crumbly, too sweet and just plain not good.

At first, I was ecstatic to try the taze bakla I bought at the Saturday pazar in Beşiktaş. These fuzzy green bean-like pods were definitely fresh and a sign of spring! I'm awfully tired of seeing all the root vegetables at the pazar in Istanbul.

But shelling these small bakla is just like shelling spring peas! Maybe even worse!

Each pod contained 4 or 5 miniscule fava beans. So I only yielded 60 grams (about half a cup) out of the half kilo I purchased.

Well, at least I had a delicious plan for these prized fava beans.

My lettuce vendor had thrown in a bunch of spring garlic (yeni sarımsak (new garlic) as he referred to it) that smelled sweet and sharp. This was a real treat as spring garlic is only around for a few weeks. (See: last year's Spring Garlic Soup recipe.)
Fava beans and a bunch of spring garlic, which could be mistaken for scallions. 
So the fresh fava beans and spring garlic make for a simple, spring-flavored pasta. For once, my recipe only contains a handful of ingredients and is just a bit of this and that.

I also added some leftover Italian mortadella from our Bologna trip that was begging to be used. Hey, my love of pork won me over.
Who could resist a bite of this garlicky pasta with loads of Parmesan cheese, mortadella
 and basil?
Afiyet Olsun!

Fava Bean, Spring Garlic Pasta (Bakla ve Makarna)

1-2       T.                                 olive oil
300      g.         (10.5 oz.)         package of fresh pasta like fettuccine
Handful                                   taze bakla (fresh fava beans)
1                      bunch              spring garlic, chopped
To taste                                   salt and pepper
As needed                               Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Handful                                   fresh basil, julienned
Optional:         handful of diced mortadella or some pancetta

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Drop in the fresh pasta and fava beans. Cook until al dente - about 3 minutes. Strain immediately, but save some of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Sauté the spring garlic and pork, if using, for a few minutes.

Then, in the large pot used for the pasta, combine the spring garlic, pork, pasta, fava beans and some of the pasta water. Throw in a knob of butter for some added richness. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and taste again. Add more pasta water as needed to make a light sauce.

Garnish the pasta with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and basil. (I couldn't resist trying a giant forkful of the pasta right out of the pot!)

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Unknown said...

Hi Joy! I love your new look on your blog! The colours and photos are great! You'll have to tell me how you do those extra pages.
Your recipe looks delicious too - I didn't buy bakla at the pazar on Monday as they didn't look fully ripe yet, but I will and will try this pasta recipe of yours! Thanks.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi joy! i am right there with you on fava beans. the first time i bought them it took me forever to shell them. some places now sell them shelled and if i find them i sure will be making this. i can get excellent mortadella here. lately i can't seem to get enough leberkase! i love it on radish sandwiches.

BacktoBodrum said...

I hope you used up those lovely pods. I wait all year for these. I can give the inside beans a miss.

Joy said...

@Claudia, thank you! The blog still needs some work, but at least I got the photos up...finally! Any other bakla recipe ideas?

@jaz, The pasta was so tasty, so I'll try it again once the bakla get a bit bigger.

Joy said...

@Back to Bodrum, Oh, please do tell me what to do with the pods! Unfortunately, I threw them away b/c I read online if the pods were too fiberous inside they couldn't be used. Can you just treat them like steamed green beans?

Joy said...

Great recipe for bakla (fava beans or broad beans - whatever you call them) over at
Back to Bodrum Blog

Dill and yogurt goes well with nearly every Turkish dish!

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

What a lovely, fresh looking recipe!

Anonymous said...

Merhaba Joy,
Let me start by telling you how I like your 'enthusiasm' for my hometown! How nice you enjoy your stay here.
Now, fava beans are cooked, with the pods, in olive oil. The dish is eaten cold. Your Turkish friends will know the recipe.
Shelled fava beans will be on the market a little later and you can cook them with artichoke hearts -another 'zeytinyağlı'.

Sara Louise said...

I would have thrown the mortadella in too. I'm a sucker for pork :)

Joy said...

@Andrew, thank you!

@Engin, thank you for your recommendation of the bakla 'zeytinyağlı' style. I kinda figured that would be possible, but wasn't sure and already figured out my plan. I'll look for some at the pazar this weekend. bakla with dereotu and az limon, right? =)

@Sara Louise, You know I'd hate for that pork to have gotten freezer burn, so I just had to use it up. ;-)