Welcome to the second edition of stuff Dutch people eat, Hungry Lifetarian-style.
As promised, I am going to try my best to make grocery shopping a little bit more accessible for expats (especially my own peeps, the ‘Mericans). So tell me, has this been you?
Waking up with fresh food in mind and an empty fridge, you bike through the tourists to reach the Noordermarkt (or some other fun outdoor markt), feeling the breeze against your bare arms (‘cuz it’s summer up in this b**ch). You wander through the throngs of people, grabbing your favorite summer fruits and veggies, yet you still covet the knowledge of what to do with these bizarre Dutch (??) foods that stare at you every week. “I’ll get them sometime,” you lie to yourself.
You are not alone, dear friend. Let’s make it through this together. Our naïveté ends here. It ends with a little help from two special friends. Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Internet….and Ms. Google. You may have met before.
Why have I been reluctant to try new veggies? The reasons are embarrassing to admit, mostly because they highlight just how American I am. Firstly, although my brain operates with the metric system in science, i.e. at work everyday (for the past 10 years), I still can’t calculate if 2.50euro/kilogram is a good price or not. I know that a kilogram is a bit over 2 US pounds, but I have rarely ever, knowingly handled 2.2 lbs of anything in my entire life. Let alone if the item I am contemplating is something totally foreign to me, and I can’t feel it to see how much one would even weigh, e.g if they are behind the table and the grocer is the only one who can get it for you. This is a #mericanproblem because EVERYONE else knows how to measure foods in grams. Secondly, when you are in the moment and choosing your veggies, you may not be equipped with the knowledge of what to do with said veggie. So if you are buying a tiny bag of pea-pod-lookin-thingys, and you have no idea if you can eat the shells or only the tiny peas inside…it is a financial risk to buy them (admittedly a small financial risk, but college-style frugality is tattooed on my prefrontal cortex).Lastly, why would you buy something that looks like this:Sure. It’s green. And I’ve heard that green is good. But it looks too bulbous and hard to be a green bean. Definitely not a pea. So what is it?
Thanks to Ms. Google, I now know that this marvelous super-veggie is something that nearly the entire world already swallows, the fava bean (*Dutch word: tuinbonen*…although the direct translation is garden beans). You’ll know you’ve picked up something special the first time you open a fresh fava bean. Nature has designed the perfect jewelry case-styled pod, lined with a soft velvety layer to protect the precious cargo.
There are hundreds of ways to prepare the protein-packed pulses, but the first I highly recommend is likely the easiest. Eat them raw. A handful of raw fava beans will give you a whopping 10 grams of protein (why do we use grams here?!?! probably the only place that Americans see grams…and yet still don’t know what they are).
Many chefs will first pop the beans from the pods, then quickly blanche or steam the beans to remove the white, waxy layer surrounding the bright green inner bean. Although this will yield a softer texture, it will have no effect on the overall earthy flavor. Do as you wish! There are different preferences for everyone (but in my opinion if the person demands a soft, green fava then they should be the one toiling with the fuss of pealing all the white layers off. Just my two cents.)
Fresh Fava Bean Salad
1 kilogram fresh fava beans, shelled
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper
Sauté the fresh beans for one minute on medium heat with the olive oil. Add the red onion slices, and continue to sauté for 3-5 minutes or until onions just begin to wilt. Add the garlic, toss to mix and lightly brown.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice, extra olive oil, and spices.