Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fresh Fava Beans, two ways

If I had to chose one vegetable, one fruit, one 'grain', and one 'protein' to live off of for the rest of my life, I'd probably chose eggplant (or broccoli or carrots), persimmons, oatmeal (at a close second comes quinoa), and FAVA BEANS.

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, faba beans, hors beans, or even field beans, are monsters of the bean world. They're huge! Typically, a single bean is about 2-3 cm (an inch?) long and a good 1-2 cm wide. Fava beans have a distinct, unique taste that I haven't ever found before in a legume- kinda woodsy, like a mushroom, but mellow and rich. I asked for fava beans for my birthday dinner! How's that for some Vegan Teen Cuisine trivia?

dried fava vs. fresh

Unfortunately, I have never eaten, or even SEEN, fresh favas, as opposed to dried. However, I was at the Callingwood Farmer's Market the other day, and guess what I saw? FRESH FAVA BEANS! YAYYYY!

I'll show you two ways of preparing these delicious bad boys- both are relatively labor-intensive, but it's wayyyy worth it.

Traditional Way: Blanching and gently boiling

Open up the bean pods and pop out all your little favas. Blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds to loosen the skins, then place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Now, peel the tough, waxy shell off of each bean.. I find it easiest to rip one of the ends open with a fingernail and go from there, but you'll find a way that works for you.

Take your shelled, peeled fava beans and place them in a pot of gently simmering water until tender, about 5 minutes. Don't boil them too 'vigorously'! They'll fall apart like mine did. :(

Awesometastic way: Grilling

This is SO much easier! Take your bean pods and place them directly on your grill. (Spray with nonstick cooking spray- I didn't need to with my George Foreman) Turn frequently, or not.

About 10 minutes later, they'll look like this: (charred, about to burst open)

Now, DON'T OPEN THEM! Just let the fava beans sit nicely in their pods for about 10 minutes more. Have a nice tall glass of water and continue your 123218398th reading of Diet for a New America.

Once your 10 minutes are up, open up the pods and take out the beans. They'll have their waxy, tough shell still on them, so you'll have to take that yucky skin off. Use your fingernails- that's what they're there for.
And that's it! The beans cook themselves in the pods, during both the grilling and the resting.

There's no question- I like grilling a lot better when it comes to fava beans. I can't stand the whole blanching, cooling, peeling, boiling, thing. And look at the end results:Boiled (left) and grilled (right)

I guess you have to be real careful with boiling fava beans- they're too delicate to go all hardcore with them! Just a gentle simmer...

The grilled ones didn't just win aesthetically- I found that they tasted much better, too. The blanched-boiled beans were kinda watery-tasting to me. Hmmph.

I ate my fava beans with a drizzle of flax oil, a really tiny sprinkle of salt, and just a few drops of lemon juice. Divine!

Some fava bean recipes I've found on the internets: (some use dried, but I'm sure fresh beans could be substituted)

Moroccan Fava Bean Stew
Fava Bean Breakfast Spread
Fresh Fava Bean Dip
Lebanese Falafel

When buying fava beans, get more than you'll think you need. There's a LOT of waste when preparing them- it can all go to your compost of course, but it's not fun to serve your family 5 beans each.

Fava beans are low in fat and high in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and even contain calcium!

An awesome website all about broad/fava beans:

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