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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC



Fava beans, or broad beans, have been cultivated since the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia. These tasty nutritious beans are widely used in North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Moroccan Bissara is a creamy, garlicky dip made from puréed or mashed favas. Serve Bissara on your meze table or enjoy it as an appetizer with whole grain crackers or scoop it up with a whole grain flatbread.


Prep 30 minutes to roast garlic, plus 15 minutes

Cook 45 minutes

Makes 5 to 6 cups


1 pound shelled dried fava (broad) beans

2 bay leaves

2 heads garlic, roasted and peeled

1 teaspoon cumin seed, freshly roasted and ground

1 tablespoon za'atar

1 tablespoon shiro (mild, white) miso paste, or to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes

Possible garnishes include sliced scallion or chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and paprika.



  1. Most dry fava beans arrive with their thick, inedible hull, which requires soaking, cooking, and peeling each individual cooked bean. Instead, to save time and effort, use favas that arrive already shelled.
  2. If you are lucky enough to find fresh fava beans, or grow your own, they are splendid in Bissara too.


  • Add the shelled dried fava beans to a pot. Fill with water, covering the beans by two inches. Toss in the bay leaves.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Begin testing the beans for doneness at 40 minutes. They are ready when they are tender but intact. Drain and discard the bay leaves.
  • Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 375°F.
  • Peel off the papery outer skins of the heads of garlic. Roast them whole and intact for 30 minutes. Cool. Separate and peel the cloves.
  • Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the cumin seeds, stirring constantly. With your nose positioned right over the skills, remove the pan as soon as you can perceive smell the cumin’s aromas. Cumin seeds burn in a flash. If they begin to smoke your seeds may be bitter and ruin the Bissara. If that occurs, start over. Cool the seeds. Grind them in a coffee grinder to a powder.
  • In the bowl of a food processor combine the cooked fava beans, roasted garlic cloves, ground cumin, za’atar, and shiro miso. Run the processor until the bean spread is smooth and creamy.  If it is not sufficiently creamy, add a tablespoon of water at a time.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as you like.
  • Transfer Bissara to a serving bowl. Stir in Aleppo chili flakes to taste.
  • Serve Bissara warm, and garnish with slivers of scallion or onion, chopped tomatoes, or a sprinkling of sesame seeds and paprika.





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