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Beyond Broad Beans

This article originally appeared in the 2010 online Cockatrice magazine. My thanks to Master Giles de Roet (Mark Calderwood) for his work in editing it.

I once attended a feast with a friend who was vegetarian. When the vegetarian alternative dish, a bowl of broad beans, was served, she sighed. ‘Not again,’ she said. ‘I’m so sick of broad beans always being the vegetarian option.” In recent years, increasing numbers of people are being affected by special
dietary requirements: in 2010, for example, almost 20% of attendees listed on the meal plan for Canterbury Faire noted dietary restrictions, allergies or intolerances. More and more cooks are becoming aware of the need to offer vegetarian, gluten-free, dairyintolerant and coeliac options as well catering to a spectrum of allergies. With the development of my own interest in cooking, one of the things I enjoy doing is finding recipes that will meet these needs and happily feed the individuals in questionpreferably alongside everybody else, rather than having a ‘special’ dish. Herewith I offer several redactions based on
two sources. The first, Bartolomeo Scappi, was a well-travelled 16th century Italian cook who primarily served the Papal courts (Scully, 2008, 70-73). The second, Martino de’ Rossi of Como, was perhaps the most influential cook of the 15th century. Drawing on his career spanning Tuscany, Naples, Rome and
Milan, his Libro dell Arte Coqunaria was later copied by his admirer Platina in his own book De honeste vopultate et valitudine in 1474. Martino was again heavily plagiarised by Giovanni de Rosselli the 16th century, whose work was also available in English by the end of that century (Ballerini, 2005, 22).

Fried Fava Beans
This dish is not broad beans as we know them, and was a surprising hit that had feasters asking for more. The original recipe comes from Martino, with reference to another earlier recipe for fava beans (Ballerini, 65-66).
250g frozen or fresh, unpodded fava beans
1-2 medium-size onions
2 small or 1 large granny smith or other
cooking apples
250g figs or dates
1 bunch fresh sage
Olive oil
Salt, ground pepper
ground sugar, cinnamon, cloves and ginger to taste
Finely chop the onions, apple, and sage. Chop the figs or dates to pieces the size of a broad bean.
Heat some oil in a frying pan. Add a little of the onions and all the sage, and fry off lightly for one minute.
Add the rest of the onions, along with the figs or dates and broad beans to the pan, and fry until cooked.
Dress with spices to taste. Serves 8.
I first substituted dates for figs due to a tight budget, and a surplus of dates in the baronial stores. Scappi often substitutes these two items. The original recipe calls for the beans to be simply topped with ‘some good spices’. I have interpreted this as a poudre douce, but spices to suit other tastes can be used.
Braised Eggplant
This delicious and filling dish comes again from Scappi (III.29, Scully, 360-361).
2 medium-size, ripe but firm eggplants
1 cup rice flour
¾ cup verjuice or cider vinegar
Olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large bunches fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh marjoram
1 bunch fresh fennel tips
½ bunch fresh mint
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1teaspoon salt
½-1 teaspoon ground pepper
½-1 teaspoon cloves
Peel eggplants and slice lengthwise into three or four pieces each. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes then drain.

Transfer to a saucepan, cover with water and sprinkle with salt. Bring to the boil and cook until well done. Drain, and leave on a clean absorbent tea towel to finish draining – you need to remove as much liquid as possible without the eggplant disintegrating.

Coarsely chop the herbs, and mix together with the garlic.
Mix together all the spices and salt in a separate bowl.
Lightly grease a lidded casserole dish (approximately 25cm in diameter, and quite deep) with oil.
Place rice flour into a shallow bowl and carefully lay the eggplant in one piece at a time to coat both sides with flour.
Carefully make a single layer of eggplant in the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle generously with herbs, spices and sugar, and finally verjuice or cider vinegar. Be careful to ensure an even distribution of each ingredient. Repeat this layering two more times.
Bake in a moderate oven (180°C) for 30-40 minutes. Serves 6-8
This redaction is based on a fast day version contained in Scappi (without cheese, butter or breadcrumbs), substituting rice flour to make it gluten free. If not catering for dairy-intolerant and gluten free diners, you can add a layer of hard cheese (block edam works fine) and bread crumbs on top of the herbs, spices and sugar in each layer, which Scappi mentions as a non-fasting day variation (Scully, 2008, 360-361).
Thick Chickpea Soup
I served this dish at Canterbury Faire AS XLV, where it had the advantage that leftovers could be easily turned into hummus (drained, oil added and blended), or falafel (thickened with rice flour and eggs, and pan fried). This redaction uses all four of the original versions in Scappi ( II.92, Scully, 236; III.250 & III.251, Scully 357; VI.110, Scully, 577-578).
4 cups dry chickpeas
6L vegetable stock
4 cloves garlic, crushed
50ml almond oil
50g rice flour
1teaspoon salt
1teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh rosemary
Soak chickpeas overnight in water. Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly. Place in a pot with enough vegetable stock to cover them well. Add the garlic, peppercorns, sage, and rosemary. The sage and rosemary may be chopped or left as whole sprigs, as you prefer.
Cook the chickpeas until they are tender. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface (this is the stuff that causes gas).
In a bowl, combine the almond oil and rice flour with some of the liquid from the chickpeas to create a thin paste. Mix the paste into the chickpeas until it has
been thoroughly combined and there are no lumps (this may take some patience, depending on the thickness of your paste).
Continue to cook the chickpeas until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of a sauce. Serves 8-12.
To meet special dietary needs I used vegetable stock in place of chicken stock, and rice flour in place of wheat flour. At least one of Scappi’s recipes uses just the water the chickpeas are cooked in, rather than stock. The chickpeas can be cooked ahead of time in water, and reheated in the vegetable stock. If you do this, rinse the chickpeas again after they are cooked. Rinsing chickpeas between each stage of cooking and skimming off surface foam helps reduce their habit of causing flatulence.

Thick Cauliflower Soup
This plain but hearty Scappi dish makes a good addition to any meal, regardless of dietary requirements. It is called a soup but is really cooked pieces of cauliflower with a lightly flavoured thin sauce over the top.
½ to 1 head of cauliflower
100ml orange juice
100ml olive or almond oil
100ml vegetable stock
1teaspoon (or more) ground pepper
salt to taste
Wash the cauliflower and cut into florets, discarding the stalk. Put into a saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer until just tender.
Pour the orange juice, oil, stock, and pepper into a jar, and close tightly. Shake until combined to make a vinaigrette.
Pour the sauce mixture over the cauliflower florets and serve warm. Serves 8.
Scappi calls for ‘a very little broth’ in this recipe: I have used vegetable stock in this redaction although chicken stock could be substituted if not catering for vegetarians.
Important Note on Measures
Although a tablespoon measure is defined as 20ml in Australia, these redactions use the 15ml version recognised in New Zealand.
A teaspoon measure is 5ml in both countries.
Ballerini, L (ed), Parzen, J (trans). The Art of Cooking, The First Modern Cookery Book. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2005.
Scully, T (trans). The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570) L’arte et prudenza d’un maestro Cuoco. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2008.