Ah, Fava Beans!
Every spring we grow favas. We eat them fresh from the garden when the beans are very young and very little. But the best is to let the pods grow and harvest them when they are about 6-8 inches long and still green. There are many ways to prepare the beans. At the Kitchen in the Groves we pick, wash, de-pod, blanch, and peel the beans. Here is how to do it easily. Many hands in the kitchen save time and make it fun. For measurement about one pound of un-peeled beans will give you roughly 1/3 cup of favas. These beans also freeze well for use in soups or fava bean puree.
METHOD NUMBER 1: POACHING FAVAS
Remove the beans from the furry pods by pulling the string (like peas), and then running a finger up the seam of the pod, split it open and remove the beans. There are about 4 to 5 beans per pod. Save the pods for use in the compost pile for extra nitrogen for your soil.
All fava beans have a thick cover skin around them which also needs to be peeled off. Place the fava beans in boiling salted water to blanch for 3-4 minutes. Remove the beans from the boiling water and submerge them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This step softens the second skin, making it much easier to remove.
With your fingers, squeeze the bean out from its skin or use a paring knife to cut a slit in the jacket and pop the bean out.
Toss the beans in a fragrant olive oil, salt and a very little pepper and serve over fresh cheese.
Or add the beans to any dish that needs color and texture to heighten the appearance and taste, like a simple grilled fish with lemon and olive oil or crostini with garlic and olive oil.
METHOD NUMBER 2: GRILLING FAVAS
Toss the pods in extra virgin olive oil and coarse Trapani sea salt and place them on the grill. Cook for 4-6 minutes. Flavor combinations make this dish better using harissa spice or crushed red pepper flakes. When the pods are roasted, add a splash of lemon juice and lemon zest for a lovely acidity and finish to the taste. The key is just the right temperature with the goal for the beans to steam in their pods before the pods char.
Serve the whole pods at table, open the pods with your fingers, slip the bean from their outer cover and enjoy. Save the pods for the compost heap for next year’s fava growing season.
Fava beans are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They are a great source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese, Folate.