Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fresh Fava Bean Frustration

Fresh favas after shucking, blanching, and shucking again.

I really, really like eating fresh fava beans. But I'm not convinced it's worth the ridiculous effort involved in making them. You start with a huge bag full o'bean pods, and after not one but TWO shuckings, you end (hours later) with a puny pile of admittedly gorgeous green insides.

Favas after first shucking, pre-blanching. Once they're blanched, I either use a knife or my fingernail to push into the bean by the stem on the top and pop the hard skin off.

Don't get me wrong--I don't mind working for my food, and on the weekends I often tackle long and involved recipes. Yet there's something about favas--I'm always slightly disappointed with the meagerness of the end product. So--once a spring is about it for me. And 2006's "once" was this past Saturday, when we grilled some king salmon and served it over pureed fava beans.

The recipes and pairing came from Mario Batali's Babbo Cookbook, but the fava puree is so easy, you don't need really need a recipe. First off, buy a bagful of the biggest fava beans you can find at the market. Then pop the beans out of their pods--the way I do it is to make a small cut at one end and then pull the string off the side, which usually opens the pod. Blanch your beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, then drain. Again, pop the beans out of the tough outer shell-- sometimes I use a knife, sometimes my brute (harhar) strength. Whirl in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of fresh thyme. Add slugs of olive oil until it reaches a slightly smooth texture, and season with salt and pepper. Warm in a saute pan over the stove before serving with the salmon.

Erin's Kitchen Index: Soups, Salads and Veggies


mumu said...

i don't think we get fresh fava beans over here much. in fact i've not seen them anywhere here. i would love to try them fresh. we have here the fried ones that are more a beer snack than anything else. in any case i use edamame when i want a green slush. :-)

Jessica said...

I too love favas and hate prepping them. This past weekend I skipped over heaps of gorgeous fresh beans just b/c I could not face the prospect of the tedious procedure.

Ivonne said...

Hi Erin,

I feel your pain! While I am a big fan of fresh foods, sometimes I find that you can go with canned and the quality of the food is just as good. There are some really top-notch canned beans out there, including fava. You may want to give that a try next time. It's a shortcut where you're sacrificing taste for ease of preparation.

marielle said...

Sounds so, so good though - definitely worth the shucking effort!

Erin S. said...

mumu--I never saw them before moving to CA--though I really wasn't looking. I bet edamame puree tastes very similar.

jessica--I did notice a stand at the santa monica farmer's market this sunday that was selling favas shucked out of the pods, so that could save one step!

ivonne--i will look for canned favas. I almost always used canned black beans, cannelini beans, and chickpeas.

marielle--yeah, it was good and I didn't mind too much--like I said, once a year, I can handle it :)

meles said...

dude. i was at a cote tonight in oakland and fava beans were quite the thing on the menu tonight. fava bean falafel, fava bean puree. etcetera.

now i realize why it's been a while since i've checked your site. i always feel so culinarily inadequate afterward! i'm so impressed, e!

Amy (specialty produce buyer) said...

Nothing better than the fresh fava beans. Try Fava Bean hummus with Lamb on pita. I will tell you that Whole Foods sells the shucked beans in a frozen 1# bag. They definitely work and you need little effort to use them. You can get them year round.

Jackie said...

Yeah, the favas were definitely tasty, but it *is* so disappointing to go from a huge pile of pods to a puny bowlful of beans!

Thanks for the link to your blog... I'll have to add it to my reading list. :)

Anonymous said...

We crave fava beans and rejoice when the season delivers them at their most tender. So everyone seems to peel the bean after shelled and cooked. We never peel them and yet they are delicious. Any comments on how that works if I puree them? I'm hoping for an easy puree to serve with salmon and a bit of pasta.
And thanks for your nice blog!

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