La Tourte de Fèves a Fava Bean Tart from Nice, France
Fève(s) is a French word with several meanings – a trinket in the epiphany cake, chocolate disks used by chocolatiers and in baking, and fava beans. So in this Niçoise dessert recipe, we are talking about fava beans for the tart (tourte) filling, egg, sugar, and hints of citrus.
The recipe for la Tourte de Fèves comes from Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice, a cookbook and a tribute to the essence of Cuisine Nissarde sharing food with family and friends. The recipe below was translated and published with the permission of the Office de Tourisme Métropolitain Nice Côte d’Azur. Available in French only, you can find Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice online at Amazon or the tourist office in Nice, France.
Beans and the Mediterranean
Since antiquity, beans and legumes have formed part of regional diets around the Mediterranean. Archival references and traces of these plants have been found where ancient populations lived in present-day Egypt, Greece, Italy, and Turkey. Generally easy to grow, dry and store, beans of varieties are an inexpensive protein that fed peasants and nobles alike, becoming a staple in most kitchens.
For more on the history of vegetables, Histoire des legumes by Georges Gibault, published in 1912, received a médaille d’or par la Société Nationale d’Horticulture de France. This book is still considered a well-researched guide to the origins of some 100 plants.
Fava Bean Tart - la Tourte de Fèves
For the Dough:
- 100 g Flour
- 50 g Butter
- 20 g Sugar
- 1 large Egg
- 15 g Almond Powder
- Zest of 1 lemon
For the Filling:
- 200 g Dried Fava Beans shelled
- 1 zest of Lemon
- a little Grated Nutmeg
- 1 large Egg well-beaten
- 1 sachet of Vanilla Sugar
- 120 g of Sugar
- ½ Glass 4 oz of white wine
- ½ glass of Peanut Oil
- ½ glass of Orange Blossom Water
- 30 ml of Branda eau de vie de mare
The Day Before (make the filling):
- Soak the beans in warm water, and cook them in cold, salted water. When cooked (about twenty minutes), drain them and pass them through a fine vegetable mill.
- Add the other ingredients: lemon zest, grated nutmeg, egg, vanilla sugar, sugar, white wine, peanut oil, orange blossom water and branda. Mix all the ingredients well, making uniform stuffing.
- Cover and put in the fridge overnight.
The Next Day (make the pastry and bake):
- Taste the filling and adjust according to your taste by adding sugar and/or alcohol. The stuffing should be not too liquid and not too thick, the consistency of pancake dough.
- Prepare the pastry base using all the ingredients and divide it into two portions.
- Oil your pie dish and cover it with a thin layer of pastry dough, and cover the sides of the dish.
- Add the filling in a thick layer on top of the dough and cover it with a second sheet of pastry.
- With a little warm water, pinch the two edges of the pastry to form a small joint. Use scissors to make a few holes in the top of the pastry, brush with oil, add a sprinkle of caster sugar and bake in a hot oven 350°F – 400 °F (180°C to 200°C) for 45 minutes.
- The dough should turn a beautiful brown, and the pie will perfume your kitchen.
- Serve warm.