Simple Sautéed Fresh Favas
You know me and my fava bean obsession. If you follow me, you know that my neighbor at Hill Creek Farm (http://www.hillcreekfarmpa.com/) is growing them. If I recall I think I had some influence over that decision insisting that French and Italian chefs in the area (among her customers) would go crazy over them and envisioning my personal, long in-season supply. Well, the joke’s on me. The chef’s are wanting all that she can grow! Big props for Doreen for sneaking away a few pounds from the grasping restaurant chefs when I want a fava fix. I am waiting for a couple of white-coat-toque-wearing people to show up at my door with a butcher knife any day now.
To refresh your memory, Fava beans (broad beans in the UK) are large, flattened light green pods usually eaten shelled for their delicious beans. Fava are one of the ancient cultivated crops which probably originated in the fertile valleys of Asia Minor or Mediterranean region. Unlike string beans, where whole immature pods are eaten, broad beans possess thick indigestible cover that is generally shelled to extract broad, thick, and flat seeds (beans) inside. Once shelled, favas resemble a lima bean in looks, but are much creamier on the inside, rather than the mealyness of a lima. Personally, I don’t like limas, but I LOVE favas. Yes, they are labor-intensive, but SO worth it.
Fava beans are very high in protein and energy as are other beans and lentils(you can buy favas dried too). The beans are very rich source of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients such as isoflavone and plant-sterols. Fresh fava beans are an excellent source of folates and at 1062 mg or 23% of daily recommended levels, fava are one of the highest plant sources of potassium.
So, here’s what a fava bean looks like “au natural”.
To get them ready for using in a dish:
1. Strip the pod and put the beans into a bowl. To yield a pound of beans, you will need at least 2 lbs. in the pod.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and pour the beans into the boiling water. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Cook for about 2 minutes. Lift the beans out with a slotted spoon and immediately put them into the ice water-this will stop the cooking.
3. After a few minutes, when the beans are cool, pour off the water and skin each bean by piercing the tough outer skin with your fingernail and slipping the bright green bean out. It will probably split into 2 parts. It’s a big triumph when the bean stays together.
I also like to remove the little white appendage that anchored the bean to the pod-purely for esthetic reasons-it is actually fine to eat.
Fava beans freeze very well at this stage. I usually buy as many fava beans as I can with the plan to freeze enough to get me through as much of the winter as I can. I admit that there is a tolerance point where I can’t peel one more bean, so it’s my bad if I run out of favas in January.
You can use these beans in many recipes-anything you use lima beans for, including succotash, a bean salad or a fava bean hummus. Here’s a really simple recipe for a side dish that shows off the real flavor of favas.
Simple Sautéed Fresh Favas
- 2 C peeled and skinned fava beans
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ of an onion or a large shallot cut in a small dice
- 1 TBL extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 2 TBL water or chicken- optional*
Heat the oil in a fry pan over medium high heat and add the onions (or shallot). Cook until lightly browned.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about a minute.
Add the favas and cook, stirring until tender and hot-about 5 minutes.
Add the salt and pepper to taste.
*If the favas are a bit older (and have lost some of the moisture the younger favas have), you may need to add a little liquid and cook for another 5 minutes to make the favas “done”.