You know the likes of peanut butter and jelly, pasta and tomatoes…? Well, you can officially include za’atar and cheese as a perfect pairing. Keep Reading!
Throughout college I worked part-time at a local Mediterranean restaurant, The Pita House. The restaurant locale resides in an eclectic neighborhood with a good mix of college kids, families, hipsters and hippies. I was able to walk to work everyday, worked along-side my BF Brooke and donned a self-fashioned turban with a kanga from Brazil…it was highly fashionable for my then, bohemian self (and a heck of lot better than a hairnet!) My uncle humorously referred to me as, Erykah Badon’t…funny guy!
The Pita House is owned by a local family, The Shatara’s who became a second family to me. They are a wonderfully social, loud, adventurous family with great food tastes and open hearts. From them I learned some great recipes, shway shway Arabic, how to dance the Dabke and how to sip Ouzo and smoke hookah. When I worked mornings we typically shared a breakfast and Turkish coffee, which was a right start to the day!
A popular Mediterranean breakfast is Ful Mudammas (simmered Fava Beans.) This dish is often referred to as Egypt’s national dish but you will find several takes on Ful throughout the Mid-East. At The Pita House we used canned fava beans which were warmed and topped with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley. The ancient way of preparing Ful, which means fava and Mudammas, which means buried, is to take fava beans in a sealed pot of water and bury it under hot coals to cook.
This evening I finished a run and needed something fresh and fast to eat, so I turned to Ful. It’s packed with protein and fiber and I added an array of vegetables to freshen it up! Typically Ful is served with pita bread but I was out, so I substituted some locally homemade wheat tortillas.
Ful Mudammas on the Fly
1 can Fava Beans, pureed
1 Persian or Kirby cucumber, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 Hungarian Pepper, chopped
Few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
Few cloves of garlic, minced
Juice from half a lemon
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste
2 Whole Wheat Tortillas, quartered or Fresh Pita Bread
First, open and drain the canned Fava Beans. Then heat the Fava Beans in a pan on the stove top. When heated through puree in a food processor, blender or by hand with a potato masher. Place in a bowl to serve and garnish with the garlic, vegetables, olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. Slice the Tortillas or Bread into serving sized pieces and use to scoop up the warm Ful!
I also recommend trying the authentic version which I will share from my cookbook, Mediterranean The Beautiful Cookbook .
2 cups dried fava beans
5-6 cups water, to cover
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
fresh ground pepper
beid hamine (recipe below)
In a bowl combine the fava beans and water to cover generously and let soak in the refrigerator overnight. Drain.
Place the beans in a saucepan and add the water making sure the beans are covered. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, 2-5 hours. The cooking time will depend on the age and the size of the beans. When the beans are ready, add the garlic, cumin and salt to taste.
ladle into bowls. Set out the parsley, lemon wedges, oil, beid hamine and prepare for diners to add as they like. Pass the pita.
skins from 6-10 yellow onions
2 cups coffee grounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place the eggs in a saucepan. Tuck the onion skins around them so that all the surfaces are covered. Add the coffee grounds and then water to cover by 2 in. and the oil (which prevents the water from evaporating). Cover and simmer over very low heat for 6-8 hours.