Braised mushrooms and fava beans with spring garlic and scallions

There’s something invigorating about visiting the market on one of the earliest days of spring. I don’t mean spring in the true calendar sense, as sticklers will point out that officially we have a week or two of winter left. And I also don’t mean it purely in terms of the weather — we’ve been getting warm days on and off for a while now.

I mean spring in the sense of the land, and its bounty — cucumbers that are pale, gnarly and tart, a far cry from their fat, glossy winter hothouse cousins; sour young almonds; grape leaves; thick pods of ful, fava beans; baladi green onions, a heirloom variety that look like a cross between a scallion and a full-blown onion; and of course fresh garlic, thick stalks whose pungent scent permeates the air throughout the market.

It’s exciting to see all these familiar faces again, after the relative monotony of winter vegetables. I’m attempting to empty the fridge in preparation for our move, but I couldn’t help myself — a little bag of this, some more of that, and lo and behold, my cart was full.

Check out those scallions:

And on an unrelated note, it looks like someone was trying to hide a few bananas:


If you were to pour many of these fresh, springtime goodies into a pot, this is one variation of what you’d get. It’s similar to the mushrooms you’ll occasionally find topping hummus at a little hummus restaurant. The mushrooms, by the way, are rough-looking overgrown button specimens that sell for a cheap 18 shekels a kilo.

My version omits the cumin and instead uses fresh heads of garlic and scallion, and gets served atop rice.

For about 4 servings:

  • 500 grams mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 500-800 grams fava beans in their pods, which should give you 150-250 grams of actual beans
  • 2 young garlic heads, with a few centimeters of stem still attached (mine were about 4 centimeters in diameter)
  • 2 fat baladi scallions, mostly the white part (alternately use 4 regular scallions, mostly the white part)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional: Fresh herbs such as chopped parsley or the green part of the scallion for topping

Remove the outermost layer or two of garlic peel. Chop the garlic down the middle and remove the hard core that runs through the head and up the center of the stalk. Coarsely chop the garlic head, and finely chop the stem.

Dice up the scallion.

Toss the mushrooms and fava beans into a pot with the oil, the garlic and the scallion. Heat on a medium flame for a few minutes, and then add half a cup of water, the salt, the turmeric and the pepper.

Put a lid on the pot and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally. When the water is mostly gone, add another half cup.

The dish is done once the lava beans are silky soft. Add a little more water if you want to create more sauce.

Serve over rice. Top with the fresh herbs if desired.

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