This week I admit to being completely out of my element. The ingredients in my Chopped basket threw me for a loop: ground turkey, fava beans, wheat berries, Greek yogurt and chai tea.
Where to even begin with my challenges? Let’s confront them:
One. I had never cooked fava beans or wheat berries.
Two. I find chai to be too spiced, so I tend to avoid it.
Three. I am not that creative with recipes involving so many different elements. And, predictably, throwing of all of this into a Google search yielded … nothing.
Four. Fava beans are not in season, which meant either using dry or canned. If I went the dry bean route I had to soak them overnight, which also meant being patient (problem!). Going with a canned bean seemed less authentic — even more removed from fresh than dry beans.
Not that I let any of these obstacles stop me (although, truth be told, I wanted to throw in the towel at times). But my imagination began to kick in just in time. I thought of Mediterranean and Lebanese dishes I’ve enjoyed that involved yogurt and beans and spices. As a general idea formed in my head, I was able to imagine how each element might work with the others.
So imagine this as a film montage, with a Rocky-like theme playing in the background: I researched my ingredients. I soaked, peeled, and cooked the beans. I prepared the wheat berries. I tasted the chai tea with the Greek yogurt, then the wheat berries and the fava beans. I pureed the fava beans. And tasted them again.
All while wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.
Music still playing, I threw the turkey, beans and some basic seasoning from my pantry into a meatball with some egg to bind it all together. These I placed atop the wheat berries, finishing it all off with a mixture of the yogurt and chai tea. The tang of the yogurt helped balance out that spiced chai flavor and played quite well with the meatball.
While it may not have been so imaginative, my toiling produced a dish that tasted balanced and interesting. It was even quite healthy!
Now, whether or not I’m victorious … that is up to you, fellow Eater, to judge. But who doesn’t love an underdog?
Fava Bean Turkey Meatballs With Chai Yogurt Sauce
3/4 cup dried fava beans (I used dry extra-large fava beans)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1 pound ground turkey
2 cups wheat berries (I used hard red spring wheat berries)
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon liquid chai concentrate
To make the fava bean puree: Soak the dried fava beans overnight. The outer shells should be tender enough to peel off. Some might start to open or pop out on their own by the morning. For the beans that do not open, use your nail or a paring knife. Boil the beans in salted water, just enough to cover them, for 10 to 15 minutes. When tender, drain and puree in a food processor or blender. You’ll need about 1/2 cup of puree.
To prepare the wheat berries: Cover the berries with water about an inch or so over the top. Bring to a boil, drop to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how chewy you like them. Add more water if needed. When done, drain off any remaining water.
To make the meatballs: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine fava bean puree, garlic, green onion, salt and pepper. Add egg and ground turkey. Using hands, fully combine all ingredients. Use a scoop to form meatballs and place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
To make the sauce, combine the yogurt and chai tea liquid mix. Taste as you add the chai tea — you may want to add more tea or more yogurt depending on how much spice you prefer.
Place a couple of meatballs on top of a few scoops of wheat berries. Pour the chai tea yogurt mixture over top and sprinkle some green onions onto the dish.