Depending on how we see things, we could consider cooking this dish as a luxury. If you adore cooking, you adore the gorgeous smell of fresh beans and peas being shelled out of the pod, a process which lazily takes up quite a lot of time.
Or maybe not. It could be the other way around. If spending time in the kitchen, digging your fingernails into green pods to take out beans and pods might not be the thing for you, it might sound like a torturous way to spend your precious time.
For me, as long as I have the time to spare, I think it’s a luxury. I love the sweet green scent that fills the kitchen. I like doing things with my hands. I think the taste of the dish with fresh legumes is so much better that using the preprocessed or frozen versions.
I made this dish last weekend shortly after reading this post The Educated Eater by Fat Heffalump through Freshly Pressed on WP. It talks about the fat / junk food tax, and about how society likes to think that poor people are sometimes overweight because they are not educated enough to know about healthy living. The author points out that often the poorest people know exactly how much each food and ingredient costs. They know the precise nutritional value of everything. It’s just that fresh ingredients are often more expensive than unhealthy foods. Plus, cooking from scratch often takes time, which if one is juggling various jobs and bringing up children, leisurely time is not something one has much of. Even though I have a mission to feature simple and quick recipes in my blog – although this recipe for today is not exactly fast to make, about 90% of my recipes are – I perfectly understand the point of the post The Educated Eater. And it was very present in my mind as I shelled the beans and peas.
Shelling beans and peas took up a lot of time. That is obvious and can be considered through various angles. Your time might be more necessary in doing some other task or work. Or maybe you time is worth a lot per hour. Whatever the case, it’s obvious that buying frozen already shelled beans and peas is quicker to make.
Is buying frozen already shelled beans and peas also cheaper?
The price of my beans was okish. They were 2.50 € / kg. But, oh my goodness, the price of the peas were 8.50 € / kg. And the volume of peas shelled out of their pods was less than the equivalent volume of beans. Here is the proof:
Between the time taken and the monetary costs of the peas as such, as humble as the dish may initially seem, it was in fact expensive.
Catalan Bean and Pea Stew
The original name of this stew is Habas a la Catalana (in Spanish), o Favas a la Catalana (in Catalan). I must dedicate this post to my butcher, because I never planned on making this stew, nor did I know of its existence, but he told me about it and was telling me how to make it when I asked him what that dark looking sausage type thing was. It’s called bull (pronounced bui in Catalan) and it’s similar to black pudding. The white thing next to it in the picture is cansalada (in Catalan) which is basically pork fat…
The original recipe doesn’t really call for peas. Adding peas sort of smooths out the flavour, as does adding a few mint leaves and anise.
Fava beans, peas (optional), 250g bull, 100g cansalada, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tomatoes, 5 laurel leaves, mint (optional), anise liqueur (optional and can be substituted for with white wine), salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons olive oil
Shell the fava beans and peas. I saw that many websites say that after shelling the beans you also need to remove the outer peel of the beans. We don’t usually do that in Spain, and eating it is optional.
Bring water to boil in a large pot. Boil the fava beans and peas for as long as it takes to do the next step…
Peel and chop the onion. Pour some olive oil in a pan. Cook the onion over low heat until soft. Peel and chop the garlic. Add to the onion and cook for a couple of minutes. Chop the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, mint and laurel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Add some water if it looks like it might dry out.
Chop the cansalada and the bull. Add the cansalada. Cook for a few minutes.
Drain the beans and peas. Add them to the pan. Add the bull and a few drops of anise. Add some salt and black pepper to taste. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Enjoy your meal!