Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fava Beans: The gift of too much work

Squish the bean out of its membrane.
I’ve never seen Fava Beans (or Broad Beans as they are known in English) in our grocery stores. I’ve never known anyone to grow them. I’ve only read about them. I think that was in Under the Tuscan Sun, but I can’t find the passage to be sure. I remember reading about this vegetable where everyone in Tuscany or Provence eagerly awaits its early summer harvest. Like I wait for the first real strawberries of the season or the hope of a few morels in May. I only had the vaguest notion of what they were like. Then a few days ago our vegetable farmer friends gave us a gift of about a pound of fava beans. (Recipes say for a serving you should plan on a pound of pods per person.) I think I know why they are rare in our country.

Joe and Becca sent along basic instructions. Open the pod. Inside, find three to five large beans. Remove them. When they are all collected, blanch them for 30 seconds in boiling water until the membrane around each bean loosens. Quickly place them in an ice bath. Open the membrane slightly and squish out the bean. Do this for each one. One at a time, until you have a small bowlful. Steam them for 3 minutes until tender.

With this little batch I did the simplest thing possible to taste them. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on a little sea salt and pepper. I now understand two things. Why Italians love them so much. And why they are not popular here: too much work. But their buttery flavor and smooth texture won me completely. It was worth each little step. More, please.

1 comment:

Sandra Oster said...

They are so good. Worth the work.