Favas; Spring in a Bean

 Fava beans, artichokes, nettles, tiny peas, garlic scapes.  Spring! All favorites, but, oh, fava beans.  Hard to find, in the market or CSA box for a very short time,  worth seeking out and preparing. Yes, there are two steps to getting at the brilliantly green bean, but you still need to try them fresh. The  fava/ricotta toast I made for dinner, above,  was perfect with a salad of fresh greens and walnuts.

Call around, see which market has fava beans this week, then come back when you find them. This pile below, about two handfuls, was little more than a pound, and produced just under a cup, shelled. These look blotchy but are fine. Select firm pods, disregard any that are rubbery or have soft spots. If in doubt, find your way inside and take a peek. The beans,  covered in a pale green waxy shell, should be unblemished. You’re good to go.

Start a large pot of water boiling, turn on some music or an audio book and start shelling. This is relaxing work, good for many (multi-age) hands or just your own, as you wish. People have been shelling these beans for thousands of years; think about that as you work!

Snap one end of the pod and pull the resulting “string” down as far as you can, then split the pod open.Gorgeous, no? Big beans. Pop them all out and you have a nice pile of pods for the compost bin, and this:Give them a boil for just a minute or two, then drain and cool them down with water. The shell needs to be split at this point; just tear a small piece of one end and gently squeeze the other. Voila! A vibrantly green fava emerges, just looking like spring in a bean.For starters, you can simmer them lightly in olive oil and garlic, toss them with pasta, top grilled polenta, smash them into a hummus, or use them as a topping for grilled bread and ricotta, as I did.

The recipe

I tossed my little cup of beans with a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, a splash of olive oil, salt,  and two finely minced cloves of garlic. A bit of plain ricotta spread over a slices of good bread, broiled, made a fine base. I topped the whole thing with slivers of Gruyère (because that’s what I had), torn pieces of parsley, and a fresh grind of pepper.

I cannot recommend this enough; a simple bite, fresh and healthful. I also can’t wait to find more fava beans!

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