How favas won me over



I was in the dark on favas for too long. It took me a while before I contemplated growing fava beans in our Noe Valley garden, and even then I didn’t have the slightest clue about how much I would come to enjoy them. 

I have to say, I was impressed from planting the seeds all the way through harvest; fava seeds sprout and grow vigorously in the most depressing conditions, no problem!  These plants stand tall and proud through the dark and wet of winter.  Their roots add nutrients to the soil.  Their flowers and leafiness attract and provide habitat for beneficial insects.  If you let them grow to full size, they can produce large quantities of the edible beans, which have become a spring time culinary staple. Now that favas have passed the SF city garden test, I plan to have a crop in constant rotation.  I’ll plan on a big planting in October/November, and then again in the early Spring.

My favorite way to cook and eat favas is simple if you have fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, a buttery extra virgin olive oil,  fresh picked young favas, and just a little patience.  Here’s what I do:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil

2. While the water heats up, shell 3 lbs. of mid-season favas; discard the pods (or save them to make a fava stock!)

3. Parboil shelled beans for 1 minute, then drain and immediately toss them into an ice bath for a few minutes

4. Drain again and remove their pale green skins by piercing outer skin with your thumbnail and popping out the bright green bean with a pinch

5. Warm 1/2 cup of olive oil in a shallow, heavy bottom saute pan

6. Add beans and a pinch of salt

7. Add 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped very fine

8. Add a sprig of thyme, one of rosemary, and a small splash of water (just enough to cover the beans and prevent sticking)

9. Cook at a slow simmer, stirring and tasting frequently for about 30 min, until they become completely soft, pale green and easy to mash into a puree; if needed add more water to prevent sticking

10. When the beans are done, remove herbs and mash the beans into a paste with the back of a wooden spoon

11. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to taste.  If the puree is still too thick or dry, add more olive oil.

Spread your bright green puree onto a piece of toasted country-style bread with a healthy shaving of Parmesan for a special springtime snack.  Or I love to leave the puree a bit chunky, crumble in some Ricotta Salata and use it as the ultimate Springtime ravioli stuffing!

As you can see, I’m sold :-)



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