It’s Springtime Eat Favas
I look forward all year to the harvest of those ephemeral fava beans and they are here right now. Fava beans are beautiful and delicious - big, plump, flavorful (although certainly a hassle to deal with that double shell thing). Try the leaves some time – they’re good too.
I spent years wandering the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market wondering what to do with those big fat and sometimes ugly beans A few years ago I began experimenting with favas but the real love affair between me and these beans began when Joe McHenry from Berkeley sent me a fava bean recipe and gushed about his urban fava bean crop. I thought I’d give it a go and we’re now on year three in this Venice, California garden cranking out beautiful beautiful beans. The other day I sat with my friend Disa who is visiting from Denmark (one of the very best and most inventive original cooks I know – more about that another time) and we shelled and talked and shelled talked and shelled. Shelling with Disa went a lot faster than my usual shelling alone. We sat at the table with a bowl between us and had four cups of shelled beans in what felt like no time at all (we’ve been talking since the first day of kindergarten so we’re pretty good at it). One of my all-time, favorite fava bean recipes is adapted from Joe McHenry’s instructions. It’s so simple, fresh and delicious and I make it whenever I can get my arms around enough beans.
Joe McHenry’s Fava Bean Crostini: A baguette Olive oil Garlic clove (or buy pre-made crostini from your local specialty grocery or Whole Foods) For this recipe, slice the baguette into rounds about 1/3’ thick; grill or broil the sliced bread. Stab a cut clove of garlic with a knife and brush the cut end across the toasty bread. Brush extra virgin olive oil onto the toasts and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Done. Let cool. (Want to know the difference between Bruschette and Crostini? I’ll bet you do. Here it is…. Bruschette are larger – a bigger loaf of bread sliced. Crostini are smaller from a baguette. Bruschette are grilled or toasted. Crostini can be grilled or toasted but generally are not. We’re grilling in this recipe. Live and learn eh?)
Fava Beans: Lots of beans in pods (maybe 2 to 3 lbs) 1/3 cup good olive oil or maybe more fresh squeezed lemon juice a few teaspoons or maybe more sea salt pepper thinly sliced fresh mint – 2 teaspoons or maybe more optional ingredient: Romano cheese or Pecorino cheese shaved (biggish pieces just smaller than the crostini to put on top).
Preparing the Favas: 1) Remove the beans from the pods and discard the pods (or recycle – real good for green compost). Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the fava beans and cook for 2 minutes; drain and run cold water over the beans until they cool down. 2) Peel the light green skin from each bean (maybe you can pop them out of the skin). Put the beans in a bowl. This also takes a ton of time and is nice to do with a friend. 3) Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. I use a fork to mash but you can certainly use a potato masher, pastry blender, etc. You want to end up with a choppy mash. Stir in the mint, taste, and adjust seasoning. 4) Top each crostini with fava bean spread, garnish with the shaved cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
Couldn’t be easier. Serve. They’ll be gone in a flash. All that work and gone in a flash. The only thing I would recommend is that you serve them to people you really love.
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