Monday, May 23, 2011

What Do I Do with Fava Beans? Two Ways...

Being the dropoff point in our town for Riverdog Farm's CSA, I am also the go-to girl for "What do I do with..." questions.

Until recently, the questions were minimal.  Everyone seemingly sailed along cooking away on their fall and winter veggies then Spring arrived.

"What is fennel and what do I do about it?"

"So many leeks, what do you do with them?"

and in the last two weeks..."What do I do with Fava Beans?" at least 5 times.

So I thought I would address it once and for all.  You can come back here anytime and see what to do because hopefully you will encounter these funny little guys and buy them just for the sheer novelty if nothing else.

High-fiber (85% of RDV), high iron (30%) and low-sodium, this healthy legume is a testament to the fascinating world of nature.  Packaged in what looks like a fleece-lined sleeping bag, there are four to five large, light green beans which contain even smaller beans. 


Once removed from their cozy bed, the most common way to prepare them is to double peel them. This means removing them from the pod then removing the light green slipper by blanching them which reveals a smaller, greener bean.

The method is simply popping the individual beans, after removing them from the pod, into boiling water.  When they've cooled enought to handle, slip off their light green slipper. After all this work you'll find a small, dark green bean that resembles and has the texture of edamame.  Count on 1 cup of peeled fava beans for each pound of beans you buy.

 Add these little green guys to spring salads (radishes, shaved asparagus, spring onions), risotto (classic version with favas and asparagus), and vegetable soups for extra fiber and a vegetarian source of iron.

My previous favorite way to make them into a side dish was to add them to a saute of bacon, shallots and garlic (see pic above).  With a simple squeeze of lemon juice, this is the perfect partner for grilled chicken or fish.

This was my favorite. Until last night.

I discovered a new method that is less work and a totally different flavor profile.  I had remembered reading about grilled favas on 101 Cookbooks a couple of years ago, but didn't really think it would be good.  Having favas in my fridge that I had to use and not having the Sunday night fortitude to do the double peeling process then proceed to make something else, I thought "What the heck..." and proceeded with the grilling.

You don't peel the little slipper off so it gets nicely charred and offers a bit more of a hearty texture plus I tossed them with a bright lemon, chile and mint dressing that really brought out the grilled flavor.  These were so good, I pushed aside the steak I had on my plate and got a second serving of these instead.  Note:  since you don't double peel them this way, there is a bigger yield.  So for every pound you get 2 cups of edible beans. 

Here it is:
  1. Heat grill to high.
  2. Toss the whole pod favas into olive oil to coat.  (About 2 tbsp)
  3. Place them on the grill.
  4. Grill til charred on one side then flip.
  5. Char the other side and remove from grill to cool slightly.
  6. Mix 2 tbsp olive oil, red chile flakes, garlic, and juice of 1 lemon in a large bowl.  
  7. When favas are cool enough to handle (but still very warm), remove from pod but not slipper. 
  8. Toss the favas with the lemon chile flake mixture.
  9. Toss in some fresh mint if you have it available.  (Dried oregano might be a good stand-in)
  10. Eat! 

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