Fun With Favas
One of the things I like the best about this time of year are all the vegetables that are suddenly available. One of my favorites is the Fava bean. Favas are a big part of Italian cooking, especially in Tuscany where my family is from. When I see those big old bean pods sitting there at the farmers market I just can't help myself. The fact that they're also 79 cents a pound doesn't hurt. Yes, I am cheap but the cheap never seems to hurt the delicious as long as one can buy fresh and locally.
Last weekend I decided to include Favas in my Tuscan dinner. I'd also seen beautiful spring onions on sale at 99 cents a bunch. That sealed the deal. I knew I'd have something simple, inexpensive and great to eat.
I quickly scooped up 3 lbs of Fava beans to feed my five guests. I shelled them and tossed them in boiling water for 2 minutes to blanch them. Then plunged them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Then I remembered something. I was going to have to hand shell 3 pounds of Fava beans!
Right now I have to make something clear. This recipe can be made with peas, fresh or frozen, or lima beans neither of which have to be helped off with their little vegetable coats. Fava beans can also be gotten at Whole Foods frozen, shelled and all ready to go. So, unless you want to feel like you are back in the village sitting in some sunny doorway, don't try this at home kids.
Purist that I am, I was resigned to about an hour of Fava bean peeling. I put some opera on Pandora and got down to it, and it all turned out for the best. This is a dish that like revenge, is best served cold. Well, not really, because it can also be served warm or at room temperature. It's one of those winners that can be made ahead, most likely at a time when hand peeling Favas might seem like a great idea.
Whether you peel or not, this is a dish well worth the work put into it.