Fresh fava beans have an extraordinary flavor like no other bean. The early beans of spring are small and tender, and a delicacy in soups, salads, and pastas. Larger, more mature and starchy favas are better suited to longer cooking and make a brilliant green puree to spread on croutons. Fava beans require a little extra effort to shell and peel before cooking, but they are well worth it.–Alice Waters
LC Extra Effort Note
As Alice notes, there is a little extra effort demanded by those little harbingers of spring known as fava beans. As Alice explains in her book, first they must be stripped from the large green spongy pods, and then each bean needs to be peeled to remove the skin. The extra effort may not earn you extra credit in anyone’s eyes but ours, but honestly? That fresh fava flavor is the only just reward you’ll require. Trust us.
Fava Bean Puree Recipe
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 45 minutes | Makes 2 cups
- 2 to 3 pounds fava beans in the pod
- About 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a bowl halfway with ice water. Meanwhile, shell the beans, exposing the inner skin. Discard the spent pods.
- 2. Blanch the beans for 30 seconds or so, just long enough to loosen the inner skins, then drain the favas and plop them in the ice water. (This stops the cooking and preserves their vivid green color.) Peel the beans, using your thumbnail to tear the skin at one end and then squeeze the skin to pop out the fava beans.
- 3. Heat about 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-ish heat. Add the fava beans, the water, and a generous pinch of salt and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add more water if needed to keep the mixture moist.
- 4. Remove the pan from the heat and mash the beans to a paste with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Make a well in the center of the pan, pour in another few tablespoons of olive oil, and add the garlic and rosemary to the oil. Return the pan to medium heat and cook gently until the garlic starts to sizzle and releases its fragrance. Stir the fragrant oil mixture into the beans and then season with a few grinds of pepper. Taste and add more salt, olive oil, or water as needed. Serve heaping spoonfuls of it warm as a side dish or spread the warm or room-temperature puree on toasted bread as a pre-dinner nosh.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
Fava Bean Puree Recipe © 2010 Alice Waters. Photo © 2010 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.