Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Fun With Favas.
One of the things I like the best about this time of year are all the vegetables that are suddenly available. One of my favorites is the Fava bean. Favas are a big part of Italian cooking, especially in Tuscany where my family is from. When I see those big old bean pods sitting there at the farmers market I just can't help myself. The fact that they're also 79 cents a pound doesn't hurt. Yes, I am cheap but the cheap never seems to hurt the delicious as long as one can buy fresh and locally.
Last weekend I decided to include Favas in my Tuscan dinner. I'd also seen beautiful spring onions on sale at 99 cents a bunch. That sealed the deal. I knew I'd have something simple, inexpensive and great to eat.
I quickly scooped up 3 lbs of Fava beans to feed my five guests. I shelled them and tossed them in boiling water for 2 minutes to blanch them. Then plunged them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Then I remembered something. I was going to have to hand shell 3 pounds of Fava beans!
Right now I have to make something clear. This recipe can be made with peas, fresh or frozen, or lima beans neither of which have to be helped off with their little vegetable coats. Fava beans can also be gotten at Whole Foods frozen, shelled and all ready to go. So, unless you want to feel like you are back in the village sitting in some sunny doorway, don't try this at home kids.
Purist that I am, I was resigned to about an hour of Fava bean peeling. I put some opera on Pandora and got down to it, and it all turned out for the best. This is a dish that like revenge, is best served cold. Well, not really, because it can also be served warm or at room temperature. It's one of those winners that can be made ahead, most likely at a time when hand peeling Favas might seem like a great idea.
Whether you peel or not, this is a dish well worth the work put into it.
Start with 3 lbs of Fava bean pods. This serves 5 people.
Shell the Fava beans
After they are shelled, put them into boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Take them out and plunge them into ice cold water to stop them from cooking.
When they have cooled, peel them by removing their little skin jackets. This will be pretty easy and they should slip out quickly.
In a heavy skillet drizzle a bit of olive oil. When it is hot toss in:
3 thinly sliced spring onion bulbs
Saute them for about 4 to 5 minutes til they soften a bit then add in:
The shelled Fava beans
Let them cook for about 2 or 3 minutes then add:
1 cup of chicken broth
Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Now here comes the part that Patsy likes best. The Pancetta. Patsy is a fan of anything bacon related and she waits eagerly in the kitchen for one false move on my part. She is a very dedicated little sous chef.
Chop 1/2 cup of pancetta. Saute it until it's nice and crispy, then drain it on paper towels. This part can be done ahead of time. In fact I recommend doing it this way as it saves a load of time and is a lot easier.
Add in the Pancetta and let the whole thing cook for about 15 minutes longer until the beans are nice and tender.
Mix in 2 Tbs of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
These tasty little Favas can be made ahead, chilled then served at room temperature or warm right out of the pan, as I did.
My husband loved these Favas. As a matter of fact, he's right behind Patsy in his love for anything bacon related. He does stop short of crouching under the kitchen table waiting for me to drop something however. Later that night after all the Favas had had been eaten. He told me how much he'd loved them. He also said he didn't expect to love them. I guess love is never having to say you don't like Fava beans.