Monday, May 14, 2012

Fava Beans: What The Recipe Writers Won't Tell You

Deceptive packaging
A family friend gave my mother a sack of fava beans to bring along with her while she was in town visiting us this past weekend. This friend grows them in her garden in a huge patch alongside her house. Many years ago, I house sat for her (not the same friend whose kitchen I almost burnt down) and I was impressed with the size of her fava bean garden - it was huge! I remember thinking, "Boy, she must really love fava beans." It turns out that she merely *likes* fava beans, but thinks that growing them is a good way to return nitrates to the soil. 

I am here to tell you the truth about fava beans. They are the most deceptive vegetable out there.

Alright, alright... I know that is a bold statement to say about such a great vegetable, but do you even know how many steps it takes to get them on your plate? All I can say is: Do not attempt to make these on a weeknight with two kids nipping at your heels for dinner.

I'll show you in pictures what a piece of work these beans really are.

Step 1: Fava beans come in gigantic pods (pictured above) that have small beans nestled in a fur-lined pod. Break these open and remove the beans from their pods.

Wait a second... this is all we got from those huge pods?
Step 2: Dump the beans into a pot of boiling, salted water for about 1 minute.

Step 3: Quickly strain the beans and put them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Step 4: Remove the gray outer skin, like my mom did below (What? You think she doesn't have to work in the kitchen on Mother's Day? Think again)

Hmmm... these beans are getting smaller and smaller.

Step 5: Stare in horror and curse under your breath at how few fava beans you actually have for your Mother's Day Dinner, all 1-1/3 cups of them. Oh snap!

All this for 3 adults and 2 kids!?!

Step 6: Soldier on and cook your beans (again). We chose to sautee them in a little olive oil, a pinch of chili pepper flakes, a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. Everyone got 1-1/2 spoonful of fava beans which was a comically small serving next to our steaks, but we ate every single last bean.

The moral of this story is to judge a book by it's cover. Fava beans deserve to be judged. And always buy more than you think you'll need.

And if you need to return nitrates to the soil... well, you might want to consider just buying some mulch.

1 comment:

  1. SO true! have had these in our farm box before and it's basically one serving. but they are super yummy.