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A Pilaf of Asparagus, Fava Beans, and Mint Recipe


Pilaf of Asparagus, Fava Beans, and Mint

An easy and tasty way to take advantage of spring asparagus and fava beans. 


For the pilaf:

  • A couple handfuls of fava beans, shelled
  • 12 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into short lengths
  • 2/3 cup (120 grams) white basmati rice
  • 4 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 very lightly crushed green cardamom pods
  • 6 black peppercorns 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 or 3 cloves, but no more
  • A small pinch of cumin seeds
  • A couple of sprigs thyme
  • 4 thin green onions
  • 3 or 4 sprigs parsley

For topping the pilaf:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup (200 grams) yogurt


For the pilaf:

Cook the fava beans in deep, lightly salted boiling water for 4 minutes, until almost tender, then drain. Boil or steam the asparagus for 3 minutes, then drain. Wash the rice 3 times in cold water, moving the grains around with your fingers. Cover with warm water, add a teaspoon of salt, and set aside for a good hour.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and then add the bay leaves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin seeds, and sprigs of thyme. Stir them in the butter for a minute or 2, until the fragrance wafts up. Drain the rice and add it to the warmed spices. Cover with about ¼ inch of water and bring to a boil. Season with salt, cover, and decrease the heat to simmer. Finely slice the green onions. Chop the parsley.

After 5 minutes, remove the lid and gently fold in the asparagus, fava beans, green onions, and parsley. Replace the lid and continue cooking for 5 or 6 minutes, until the rice is tender but has some bite to it. All the water should have been absorbed. Leave, with the lid on but the heat off, for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the lid, add a tablespoon of butter if you wish, check the seasoning, and fluff gently with a fork. Serve with the yogurt sauce below.

For topping the pilaf:

Stir 2 tablespoons of chopped mint, a little salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into ¾ cup (200 grams) thick, but not strained, yogurt. You could add a small clove of crushed garlic too. Spoon over the pilaf at the table.