Fava beans have been popular in Mediterranean countries for over 5000 years. They’re easy to grow and highly nutritious. So why has it taken American’s all this time to finally embrace fava beans as the great food source they are? Probably much of it has to do with just not knowing about them. I know that’s how it was with me.
I first saw favas at my local Farmers’ Market over five years ago and I was very curious as to what they were and how to cook them so one day I bought some. Then the fun began. How in the heck do I cook them? Being a big fan of Alice Waters, I consulted Chez Panisse Vegetables for the low down. This is my bible, for information on what to do with fresh vegetables. Of course the Internet works too. A Google search will bring up lots of information but Alice is still my go-to-gal. . Favas are a process. First, you string and shuck the beans, then parboil them, and finally you remove the waxy coating. Yes, it’s a process that takes a little time but the rewards for your work are worth it.
Fava Bean Ragout
Serves 4 – 6
3 to 4 pounds young fava beans (weight before shucking)
1 large clove garlic
1 small sprig rosemary
Salt and pepper
Shell the fava beans and discard the pods.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the favas, and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and cool them immediately in cold water. Pierce the outer skin with a thumbnail and squeeze each bean out of its skin with thumb and forefinger. Peel and chop the garlic very fine. Strip the rosemary leaves off the sprig and chop very fine.
Put the fava beans in a saucepan with a mixture of half water and half olive oil, enough to barely cover them. Add the garlic and rosemary, and the season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until beans are tender, about 5 minutes, more or less, depending on the beans. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and another grind or two of pepper, and serve.
For my lunch I sautéed about ½ pound sliced Crimini mushrooms in olive oil and added them to the finished ragout then tossed the mixture with some linguini (since that’s what I had on hand) and added some crumbled feta cheese. It was light, tasty and very satisfying.
Tonight while reviewing some of the blogs I follow I came across this terrific post by chef John of Food Wishes. His posts always include a short video. This particular post shows how to prepare fava beans. While your there check out his recipes and some of his other posts. It’s a great site.