Friday, April 22, 2011

Fava Beans - Spring's frustrating gift

The very first 'find' I happened upon at the Alemany farmer's market was a huge bundle of pea greens with  peas and flowers dripping off the leaves. I asked the vendor how much they were, and she quickly said, "a dollar!" I wasn't sure if the greens were to be used as decor or food, but at the bargain price of one dollar I knew that I had to have them.
I also bought fava beans. Having never actually cooked fava beans myself (I honestly think I was biased against them because of 'Silence of the Lambs' - my apologies to the favas), I decided to try it out.
I initially assumed that favas would be just like all other beans - shell, cook, eat. I was incorrect. My first step was spot on - shell the beans.
The beans have a tough outer shell so once you shell the beans you have to blanch them and then the fun really begins. Once blanched, you squeeze the bean meat out of the waxy outer shell. Finally you have an edible fava bean! (The other fun part of cooking fava beans is that, when you blanch the beans, in my opinion, they smell horrid - taste great, smell awful.)
Note the beans in their waxy outer shell
To make the sauce, I browned some hot Italian sausage in a little bit of olive oil. Once browned, I removed the sausage and caramelized a few sliced shallots in the fat (yum). Next, I de-glazed with a generous pour of white wine (making sure to scrape up all the delicious browned bits). I seasoned with a few fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, marjoram), threw in a 14-ounce can of tomatoes and two bay leaves and let cook. Once the flavors married, I removed it from the heat and stirred in a few tablespoons of shaved pecorino.
To finish my sauce, I tossed a bunch of the pea greens, peas, favas and tendrils in a hot sauce pan with a smidgen of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. To plate, I spooned some of the tomato sauce over some fresh pasta and then added my spring pea mixture (I threw in a few fresh pea greens for a nice textural contrast). The pea greens were completely delicious and tasted perfectly of spring. I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the favas, but in the future I may decide that favas are something to order out. Bon appetit.


  1. I love all the squiggles. But B's foot?

  2. I love beans! But I don't know what blanching is, so I will just eat the kind that comes in a can. By the way, I see those in the market here all the time and always wonder what they are. How are we related again? Oh yeah, it must be the wine-appreciation gene.