A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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Favas, Favas, Favas

May 13th, 2010

Springtime is always an exciting time at the Farmer’s Market.  Although we are lucky to have an active Farmers Market 12 months of the year in California; Spring always seems particularly exhilarating. I have friends that can’t wait for ramps. Others enjoy the freshness of peas. Artichokes are a huge crop in Santa Barbara from March through May. However, for this household it’s Fava Beans! I buy them twice a week and add them to everything.

Did you ever see a fava bean? It actually has two pods. The big long green pods holds about five fava beans.

Fresh Fava Beans

Fresh Fava Beans

Each of the beans above still have a second shell that you will want to remove. It’s easy. Just boil a pot of water and toss the beans in for about 45 seconds. Pour into a strainer and cool by running the beans under tap water. Several recipes recommend that you add the hot favas to an ice bath, but I don’t find that step necessary. After about a minute under running water the favas will be sufficiently cooled and are ready to peal. Just pinch off the green stem with your fingernail and then use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze the fava…the inner fava bean will slide right out.

Removing Favas from their Shell

Removing Favas from their Shell

Look at the picture on the right. You will see the final fava bean. It’s bright green and coming out of it’s shell. Remember the fava has cooked in boiling water for 45 seconds, so it only needs to cook for a few minutes more. You can treat favas like peas, and add them to any recipe where you would add peas.

I typically use fava beans three ways: sauted with butter, added to farro pasta with shrimp, or added to a risotto.

Sauteing favas is very easy. Add a little butter to a saute pan then add your favas. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Add to your plate and voila. A nice way to finish the dish is to grate a little Parmigiano Reggiano over the top.

To add the favas to a pasta dish or a risotto is the same concept; add the favas about three minutes before the dish is done. So, for my pasta dish, I add the pasta to the saute pan where the shrimp has been cooking with a bit of the pasta water. I then add red pepper flakes and the juice of two lemons. Then add the favas. If the pasta looks too dry, add a little more pasta water. Finish with a tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Risotto typically takes 20 to 25 minutes to cook. When you’re ready to add the last half cup of broth to the risotto you can then add the favas. Cook the risotto  for a couple more minutes, remove from the heat and add butter and cheese.

The season for favas and many other Spring vegetables is short, so enjoy them while you can.

6 Responses to “Favas, Favas, Favas”

  1. Jay Manning says:

    OK, Ed. What the heck is a ramp?

    Jay

  2. Nick Toren says:

    Ed,
    I’ve been passing them by down here at Santa Monica’s farmers market but you’ve got me reconsidering!

  3. Hi, Ed–

    I love fava beans! I still miss the fava bean pasta they had at Palio on 51st Street…I’ve tried to recreate it, but not with much success.

    But yesterday I had a great salad with fava beans at Morandi in the West Village. Seems easy to replicate: Chopped Romaine lettuce, minced mint leaves, Pecorino Romano cheese and fava beans, dressed with lemon and olive oil.

    Jay, as for ramps–I didn’t know what they were either until last year. But they’re great in risotto–as a matter of fact, I had a ramp risotto as my main course at Morandi!

    Oh and p.s., they’re sort of like a leek or a scallion. Basically, an onion. Someone told me Rapunzel’s name came from ramps. (Go figure.)

    Susan

  4. Ed McAniff says:

    Susan, you are certainly in one of the best US cities to have ramps, favas, and other Italian specialties. But you might need a trip to Italy just for some comparison tasting. Hey, who doesn’t need a vacation.

    Jay, one further note on ramps is the garlic taste.

  5. Alison says:

    Hi Ed,

    I love the fave bean puree with oil-cured olives, french feta, and garlic toasts.
    It’s from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers At Lucques. The best!

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