Wednesday, June 3, 2009

do you love fava beans?

i am a huge fava bean fan....and eat them as often as possible during season...i fill bags and bags at the weekly farmers' market and collect numerous recipes to prepare. but...here is my confession...i NEVER follow through with the recipes...i prepare them exactly the same three ways every time...as an easy appetizer served fresh with pecorino cheese and terrific wine or a light lunch/dinner first course mashed into a garlicky delicious puree spread on bruschetta...or tossed in a quick pasta...all three are good, but my favorite is the puree spread on bruschetta...

of course i will provide a recipe...but first i want to discuss the preparation. favas seem to scare off many people...even some "foodies" who love to cook. the process sounds complicated and labor intensive...and, to be honest, there are two steps...but i make the preparation part of the fava bean eating experience...trust me on this...you will enjoy everything from purchase to prep to consuming....

if you have never seen a raw fava bean you should know that they come in pods...kind of like a giant pea pod...and you split the pod to remove the beans the same way you do with peas...the difference is the "interior" of the shell. o.k....you are all going to know just how odd i am when i finish this description..but can't help it....i love this...the interior is made up of this spongy, protective "stuff" (have no idea of the technical term) that cradles and protects the beans. it makes me happy just to shell them...you can't help but feel really close to the farm...even if you live in a major city....and having friends and family participate in the shelling really does become a party.

so the process is as follows....
*split each pod down the center seam (just use a fingernail to get started) and open like a book.
* pop out each bean
at this point the prep depends on the season...mid season, you need to peel each bean...very early in the season you do not...and you can eat them raw...straight from the shell...my mother-in-law, who was 100% italian, shared the tradition of inviting friends over...serving early season favas this way...everyone would shell their own beans...and eat with sea salt, pecorino cheese and wine...the shelling, eating, drinking, talking and laughing makes a terrific party.
a fava popping out of the skin

as i said...after the first couple of weeks of fava season, you need to peel the beans because the skin gets tough and a bit bitter...so the next step after removing the beans from their pods is to

*add the favas to a pot of rapidly boiling water for just a minute (do not overcook)
*remove from pot with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
*when the favas are completely cool, drain and remove the outer skin. this is pretty easy as they will have started to pop out themselves...you just need to give a very light squeeze and they will do the work for you. this is easy...but time consuming...so either plan ahead...or solicit help :)
favas with skin, out of skin and one popping out to show the difference

you are now ready to use your favas in your favorite recipes...they need just a quick saute and they are good to go.

i told you my favorite way to eat favas is pureed into a garlicky spread...easy and delicious...

fava bean spread
3 pounds favas (peeled and skinned following the techniques listed above)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 peeled garlic cloves, smashed
additional extra virgin olive oil
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper
tiny pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

add favas, 3 tbsp e.v.o.o. and garlic cloves to saute pan...cook until the favas are tender and can be mashed easily when pressed with a spoon (10-15 minutes). stir occasionally during this step and add a bit more of e.v.o.o. if necessary. when favas are cooked, put the entire contents of saute pan...favas, garlic and the olive oil...into a food processor or blender. pulse until you have a chunky paste...i like some texture...but keep going until it is as smooth as you like. add additional olive oil and pulse again. the amount of oil depends on your preference...start with 2 tbsp...add the red pepper flakes...pulse again and season to taste...add additional oil if needed to achieve a smooth, spreadable puree.

serve the fava bean spread with slices of bruschetta and pecorino or parmigiano-reggiano. i spread some puree on a slice of bruschetta, top with a bit of cheese, drizzle additional extra virgin olive oil (best quality is important with this) and sprinkle a bit of grey salt....amazingly good!!

sadly, fava bean season is just about over...i waited way too long to publish this post...so, if you can, get to your farmer's market this week...see if they still have favas..buy them immediately...and try this recipe....you really will thank me..not that you need to...but i would love to hear what you think. also, for fellow fava bean lovers...what are your favorite fava recipes?

have a good week..and happy june!

diane


diane padoven
founder/president
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green live of style"™

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8 comments:

arugulove said...

I just discovered your blog and I love it!

I found favas at the Berkeley farmers market on Saturday and made a similar spread (that I've been lazy about blogging about too.) It was my first time eating them, and they were delicious.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi arugulove...love your name!

thanks for the comments about my blog...i just clicked over to yours..terrific! i will visit often..please do the same..
best,
diane

Jessica said...

Dianne,
I love fava beans too, but I have never prepared them. It always seemed like so much work. You make it sound fun so I will give it a try.

Thank you,
Jessica

casalba said...

My mum used to put a big pile of these beans in front of me to pod when I was a kid. The only good side to tackling this mountain was the inside of the pod exactly as you explain.

Your description of the Italian way of eating them is spot on too. We have a "broad bean fest" in the village hall during the season and the tables are strewn with favas still in their pods, tiny pots of salt and plates of pecorino and cold cuts. So simple, so delicious.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi jessica..and welcome. the prep for fava beans is fun...you just have to get in the right mindset...was at the napa farmer's market yesterday..and they still had favas..not sure where you live...but do try to find them...and let me know what you think...

diane

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sally..the "broad bean fest" sounds delightful...i love knowing that the tradition in my husband's family is authentically italian...his grandparents immigrated to colorado as young adults...
we call them favas...you referred to them as broad beans...what is the italian name?

dp

casalba said...

Here they call them "fava" too. The Brits say broad beans.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

sally..thanks so much for the clarification..favas, broad beans..whatever they are called, they are delicious!(and i always wondered what broad beans were)....happy summer!

diane