Friday, May 9, 2008


Ah, fava beans!
The diva of spring vegetables.

Although we've both been lucky enough to have EATEN favas in our lifetimes, we've never had the opportunity to bond with them in our own kitchen. Rumor has it that favas are kind of a pain to prepare (not difficult, mind you, just labor-intensive). So, we were eager to experience them for ourselves.

Would they be worth the effort?
We decided to see for ourselves.
First, we peeled back the protective pods. Not hard at all -- and kind of fun. I'd even go so far as to say that this stage is somewhat meditative. And the spongey pods are really pretty cool in and of themselves (I keep wondering what merits all the extensive protection for these little wonders).

After marvelling at the perfectly shaped beans we found inside, we threw them into a violently boiling pot of water. Kind of mean, but apparently necessary.

After blanching, we were able to peel away the second, waxy pod from the brilliantly green favas.
Incidentally, pound of unshelled fava beans in their pods will produce about a cup of shelled beans. We shelled about two pounds this time around -- and it took us roughly 1/2 hour.

We used this first batch as a componant in a thoroughly delightful spring salad (local spring greens, steamed & chilled asparagus, and fava beans with a lemon-garlic vinaigrette and liberal shavings of grana padano).

For anyone curious about the flavor of a fava, I'd compare it to the taste of fresh spring peas. Very green. Luscious. And not starchy at all.

The verdict?
These babies were totally worth the effort.

NPR's Kitchen Window has a nice little article about favas online too, if you're interested.

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