Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fava beans

It must be fava bean season because all the merchants were selling some at the farmers' market last Saturday. I had never cooked fava beans in my life before. And I'm not sure if I had ever eaten fresh ones either. Two good reasons to buy some! Trying to evaluate how many handfuls of pods would be necessary to feed two persons, I filled up a bag with almost 2 pounds of these long, slightly twisted, dark green vegetables, guessing that the weigh of beans would be much smaller than that of the pods.

Pierre just turned 29 and he got a cute little Belgian cookbook called "Le Produit" (by Filip Verheyden and Tony Le Duc) from my parents. It's the second volume of a trilogy, printed in a classy black fabric hardcover with "gold" edges. The first book is called "La Base" (the basics). The one Pierre got is an index of products (veggies, fruits, meats, fish, spices, herbs) with a beautiful picture and a very simple recipe involving this ingredient alone (along with the necessary spices). We took advice for our fava beans.

  1. First we removed the beans from the pods.
  2. We blanched the beans in salted water for 1 minute.
  3. We rinsed the beans in cold water to stop the cooking process.
  4. We removed the thick, light green envelope around the beans. The bean itself has a nice and flashy, darker green color (as you can see on the above picture). As the book explained it, some beans split and some others didn't.
  5. We sautéed the beans in butter for a few minutes. That's all the book recommended. As we had prepared lamb leg steaks (just salted and peppered and sautéed in butter), we simply added the beans to the pot. The lamb steaks could have used a little more seasoning but the fava beans didn't need anything else: they were delicious, not too soft and extremely flavorful.
I've seen a mouth watering recipe of fava bean, green bean and asparagus salad in my Jamie Oliver book. And I'm sure they would go well in a Mediterranean-inspired recipe too, with tomatoes, spices, herbs, roasted meat... There's room for many experiments.

A few statistics on fava beans:
  • There are about 5 beans per pod.
  • We paid $1 per pound of pods last week at the Sunnyvale farmer's market.
  • Weight of the pods: about 800 grams (almost 2 pounds)
  • Whole beans (with skin): about 300 grams
  • Ready to eat (once skin was removed): about 200 grams
  • Which means we ate 25% of the initial weight.
  • Nutrition facts


Susan in Italy said...

I had a similar experience to yours. I brought home a huge bag of fresh favas and after shelling them, got a medium-sized bowl's worth out of it, them after blanching and pulling off the skins, there was even less. They're good, though. The dish looks yummy.

Estelle said...

I agree, they're really good! It's worth the pain of preparing them.

Anonymous said...

* 1 red onion, thinly sliced
* 12 oz. fava beans in pods
* 2/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt
* 1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, sliced
* 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced

1. To reduce pungency of onions, rinse slices briefly under running cold water and drain well.

2. Shell the favas and discard the pods.

3. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil and boil fava beans for 8 minutes or until tender.

4. Drain beans and rinse under cold water. Pierce the favas and squeeze them out of their outer white skins.

5. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, mint, garlic and cucumber. Add beans and onion, toss until well-coated, and then serve.

Serves 4.

Estelle said...

This recipe sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing!