We look forward to many vegetables throughout the season. Fava beans rank fairly high for both Matt and I. Their growing window is short, especially when summer heat hits in June, like this year. We will have favas for two markets…and that will be it unless we try for more this fall.
Our first season growing fava beans was 2011. I honestly don’t remember why we tried them. Neither of us had eaten them before, but something intrigued us about those large green pods and curious beans inside a protective layer. We’re so glad we happened upon them because they are a favorite!
The only downfall, and I think it’s an endearing trait, is that the fava bean has a protective skin which has to be removed before eating. You could eat it I suppose, but it is bitter and completely ruins the taste of the fava.
Once removed from its pod, you have two options for removing the skin. You can carefully peel them when they are raw. Doing this keeps the full raw bean flavor, which is awesome! But, it is time consuming. The other option is to quickly blanch the bean for 10-20 seconds, remove to an ice bath, and then easily slip off the skin. This option starts cooking the bean slightly, but not a lot if you keep the blanch time short. In a trial I did, it was at least two times faster to blanch the beans and the flavor is very similar.
Once peeled, what to do with our fresh fava beans? So many options, but these are my two favs.
Fava beans and new potatoes. These two were meant to be together…forever and ever. As soon as fava beans are ready to harvest, we know potatoes are probably ready as well. The thing with these two fresh ingredients is that you don’t need to fuss about with them. Simplicity is best here.
Boil the new potatoes for about 15-20 minutes. They won’t take long because they are young and fresh. Remove the potatoes and set aside. Add the favas for 45-ish seconds. They should be just cooked. Remove the fava beans with a slotted spoon. Dump the water and put potatoes and favas back in the pan with a knob of butter and some salt and pepper. The potato/fava ratio can be whatever you prefer. We like a couple handfuls of potatoes to a handful of fava beans.
This dish is great for anytime of the day…breakfast, lunch, midday snack, dinner…whenever!
This next recipe is way up high in my list of foods I love. It bursts with fresh and bright flavors of lemon and mint to pair with the earthy pea flavored fava beans. I wish I was eating some right now.
Minty Fava Bean Spread
- 1 cup shelled fava beans
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 sprigs mint, torn
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 or so tablespoons Parmesan
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Add fava beans, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, torn mint leaves, and garlic in a bowl. You have two choices here. For a chunky spread, use a potato masher to incorporate the ingredients together. For a smoother spread (which is excellent when you add a little fresh mozzarella slice to the top of the crostini), toss all of this into the food processor for a few spins.
- Stir in the Parmesan. Add a little olive oil if it’s too dry.
- Season with salt & pepper.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve with crostini.