The Fava Files

July 23, 2008

 The CSA last week had fava beans in them. I gotta tell ya I found all kinds of wonderful recipes but actual information on other very important aspects…well… Let’s have a look:

– Storing – I found not much to none. I put them in a perforated (sp?) plastic bag in the crisper of my fridge.

– how long they keep – nada (I kept mine for 5 days but feel strongly that 9 to 10 days would be ok)

– shelling – I mean….yeah…what do you need. Well…actually you do need a tip on them. You need to know that they work like snow peas or green beans in that you rip the little string and then split the pod open. You also need to know that spots inside and outside of the pod mean nothing. Are the beans green and relatively unbruised? Then you may eat them.

– What they should look like outside of the shell but PRIOR TO BLANCHING! This really was the big one for me. Everyone kept saying “membrane” and I was looking at a pale green lima-esque bean with a little line of dark brown on one end. What was that dark brown line? did it mean the beans were bad…??? so confusing. Since I have no picture of spoiled beans or what the beans should look like upon first shelling wellll. Ok. Long story short too late, they were fine.

– Blanching – heat some water (enough to be a 2 to 1 ratio for your beans, ok) to boiling. drop the shelled beans in. Set the timer for 3 minutes. drain the beans.


Ok…this is where things got a little squeemy for me. The beans have this weird wax covering that is breaking away. It is like…the X files where you have to break through a membrane for the flesh…it feels wrong. Am I commiting some sort of modern day veggie version of the Day the Earth Stood Still? 

It looks weird. It takes a little time. Just do it. You’ll thank me later. Peal the membrane (that removes that pesky dark brown thingy!!) off and throw it away. Save beans. Yea.

After all this, I made this. And it was good:

– two slices of pancetta
– 1/2 pd. of fava beans unshelled (will be less after shelling and blanching and all:)
– 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
– 1 small fine minced shallot
– 1 cup broth or water
– olive oil and sea salt

– high quality romano (not grated) and crusty Italian or French bread

chop pancetta finely and then saute until crisp. Add shallot , rosemary and a dash of olive oil. Then after a minute add the beans. cook over medium heat for two to four minutes (do not brown). Then add broth, turn down heat to medium heat simmer and cover. Cook for 9 to 10 minutes. Check and try to work with spatula the beans so that they break up. You then may need to add more liquid. You are cooking them into a paste. Once you have done that (the beans don’t have to be completely pureed but they need to break up considerably and everything should be a smooth thick spread), spread on bread and grate romano on top. Serve on the side of a fresh salad. 

This was my first experience even really SEEING raw Fava beans. But it was all good. I did some research. Prep. Thought about what tastes good. It all worked out.