Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ingredient spotlight: fava beans

I’ve started to see fresh fava beans popping up in the markets around here, so I thought it would be fitting to highlight them as this month’s ingredient spotlight.

Fava beans have a nutty flavor and buttery texture, and are commonly found at farmer’s markets. They come in bright green pods that are approximately 6 inches long - each pod contains about 3-5 beans. When you open a pod, you’ll notice that the beans are a dull green color. The beans are actually covered by a thick shell that’s not very pleasant to eat. Fava beans also come in dried form, but are definitely not interchangeable with the fresh version.

Preparing fava beans is not difficult, but involves a little bit of time and patience. The first step is to remove the beans from the pods. I do my shelling in front of the tv, it goes much quicker.

After the beans have been removed from the pods, they need to be blanched. I blanch the beans in boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes, depending on size. The next step is to transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water to cool. Once the beans have cooled, those thick outer shells will be wrinkled and easy to remove. It takes a bit of practice to get the beans out of the shells in one piece. If your beans split in half, it’s not a big deal, they’ll still taste great.

Once you’ve removed all the outer shells, you’ll end up with a pile of vibrantly colored beans that are ready to eat. My favorite ways to eat fava beans are in salads or pasta. The beans can also be pureed and served on bread or as a topping for fish.

I used these fava beans in a salad recipe that I adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. The beans are paired with salty oil cured olives, meyer lemon and endive for a beautiful and delicious salad. The original recipe says to instruct your guests to eat the slices of meyer lemons, peel and all. I don’t think I’d be able to convince my family and friends to eat lemon slices, so I’m making it an optional garnish, because they sure look pretty in the salad. I added chive flowers because I have them in the garden, but they’re also optional.


Endive and fava bean salad
Serves 6

5 belgian endives, cores removed and leaves separated
juice from 1 meyer lemon, plus extra lemon slices for garnish
3/4 cup shelled and cooked fava beans
1/3 cup oil cured olives, pitted and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
chive flowers for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing, combine the shallot, cream, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the endive spears on a platter, toss with dressing. Sprinkle the fava beans, olives and chives over the top. Garnish with lemon slices and chive flowers if desired.

72 comments:

Cathy said...

Your salad picture looks great! Fava beans....just one more thing that's hard to find in the great white north. Time for a California road trip again to start trying some of this stuff.

LK- Healthy Delicious said...

oh no, not again!! Last spring I kept reading about fava beans and could never find them here... I sense this happening again already... what a tease!

Melissa said...

They look kind of like edemame. They sound neat!

Christina Kim said...

Are fava beans available in an already-shelled formed? Perhaps frozen? I feel like I've been seeing fava beans all over the blogosphere, and also on TV cooking shows. I've gotta find out what all the fuss is about!

Sarah said...

Hmmm, I will have to keep my eyes open for fava beans!Maybe at the farmers market! As for the dslr, yes they are addictive and yes so are the lens and just about every other photo related equipment ;0 ( what camera did you buy?)

Selba said...

The fava beans look so cute :)

Elra said...

Love Fava bean, I just made Fava bean & Artichoke tagine. Delicious.
Cheers,
elra

Tina W. said...

I just went to a cooking demo at the CIA that featured pan seared duck breast over a warm fava bean salad with pancetta mint vinaigrette. Ummm, it was delicious.

LaDue & Crew said...

This looks so refreshing. Your pics these days are so stunning, I want to lick the screen!

Kerstin said...

I loved reading your tutorial - gorgeous pictures too!

Pearl said...

i love fava beans! my mom adds a bit of jalapeno to them to give them a kick!

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

I've been checking the markets here for weeks looking for Fava beans. I'm so happy that you are seeing them, maybe I soon will too.
Salad looks wonderful! Wish I had some lemon and all!

Irene said...

It's kind of funny, I don't actually like fava beans, but I love the process of shelling in front of the TV. My mom and I do it all the time and I think it's really therapeutic!

Kitchen Flavours said...

Wow healthy and yummy.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Yummy! This salad looks wonderful!

Cheers,

Rosa

Julia said...

Favas are so good, but I've got to confess -- when planning my Friday menu, I opted for peas instead of Favas because they are easier (read: less time consuming) to shell.

5 Star Foodie said...

Thanks for the info on fava beans! I haven't cooked with them at home yet. The salad sounds delicious with combo of fava beans and endives!

Robin Sue said...

I had no idea about de-podding fava beans. Thanks for the lesson and now I will have to look for these at my farmers markets.

Jenna said...

thank you for the information on extracting the beans from the pod. I've never had them before and I remember seeing them last year at the Farmers Market. I'll have look for them again. That salad looks so beautiful Sara.

teresa said...

What a beautiful salad. I've never had fava beans, something else to go on the list!

Anonymous said...

When I can't find favas or don't have the time, I quickly blanch some frozen edamame. Quite a good substitute,

lisaiscooking said...

I attempted to grow favas once but didn't have enough space to end up with very many. Some day I'll try again and plant more. Your salad looks gorgeous!

Miette said...

Your salad sounds gorgeous ! I love fava bean, I usually make fava bean with fennel and chicken tagine. I never thought I could use them for making a salad !

Cheers,

Miette.

Sara said...

Christina - I've read that you can buy frozen fava beans, but I've never seen them before.

Sarah - I got a rebel xsi. I still feel like I'm learning how to use it, but so far I love it.

Julia - You definitely have to be in the mood to cook fava beans since it's so labor intensive. I did this on a weekend, I would have opted for peas if it was a weeknight!

Cassie said...

GORGEOUS salad. I've actually never had fava beans; they always make me think of the line in The Silence of the Lambs, of course.

Happy cook said...

I have neve rmade this beans, heard so much about them.

Netts Nook said...

Thanks for the info on the fava beans I don't believe I have ever tried.Your salad looks great.

Cheryl said...

You constantly amaze me! I had no clue what Fava Beans were like! They look and sound pretty good!

burpandslurp said...

thnaks for the little tutorial on fava beans! I've actually never tried this before, and this post has inspired me to give it a try!

Donna-FFW said...

I must buy this cookbook.. with all you cook from it, it has got to be a must have because all your dishes from the book look amazing, Sara!

Elyse said...

Mmm, I love fava beans! I'm so glad you spotlighted them. You know, I've never "prepared" my own, but I bet shelling them is it a totally cathartic process. Now, I'm craving fava been puree. Ooo, and your salad looks great, too!

Claudia said...

Fava beans are so hard to find here (fresh). I am kicking myself that I did not grow them. Next year. Meanwhile, I shall be on the lookout - your salad looks exquisite. I want it on my table.

Bridgett said...

Oh wow, I love this recipe! The bittery flavor of the endive must pair well with the butter texture of the fava beans. Great recipe!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I've never had fava beans or even seen them in a market although I've certainly heard of them and knew they were hard to peel. Thank you Sara for this very interesting information on how to shell and peel them. Your recipe with the endive is gorgeous too.
Sam

Usha said...

I have never used fava beans in a salad, sounds intriguing !

Natashya said...

I have never seen them fresh, I guess they don't grow in Canada.
I would love to try them this way.

Diana said...

I loooove fava beans. Even if they do always make me think of Silence of the Lambs.

Sara said...

Great looking salad. I haven't tried this recipe yet but I love other recipes I've tried from Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

Olga said...

sara!
what beautiful photos! and I love the collage.

Don't think I've ever actually cooked fava beans.

The Blonde Duck said...

I've never heard of fava beans. I feel very educated now.

Don't tell anyone, but the Babies were actually eating beggin' strips and these little egg treats. It was for their birthday. Though they have had pie, several times!

Angie's Recipes said...

The fava beans and endive....I always ate them separately...next time gotta try your salad combination.

twentyone-ten said...

I always like your recips, and this is again really nice because with down to earth inredients. Good on you... and the pics are first class.

noble pig said...

I know I love fava's and it's so exciting when they come back every year. Nice use of them.

stephchows said...

Totally want to go to the farmers market and find some to experiment with now!

Carolyn Jung said...

What a pretty and refreshing salad. Makes me want to peel a pound of favas right now! ;)

Erica said...

Thank you for this post! I have always seens these and put too nervous to buy them!!

Soma said...

I just love your spotlights! Last week at the market we almost bought the fava beans, but stopped as they had dark spots & didn't look as fresh. will surely get it next time.
the salad looks wonderfully fresh & enticing, esp. with those cure flowers.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That is an absolutely gorgeous salad! I have only worked with fava once for a cooking class, and the shelling was the worst part! But it was worth it!

girlichef said...

Amazing salad! I really like favas as well, but ugh on shelling them all...haven't done it in a few years, though. I'm due! Thanks for the push :)

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

That looks very elegant indeed Sara! It's funny every time I hear "fava beans" I always hear Hannibal Lecter suggesting fava beans and a nice chianti lol

Helene said...

Beautiful pictures Sara!

Reeni♥ said...

This is so bright, refreshing and delicious!

Maris said...

So fresh and springlike! Love your photos, too!

tuki said...

This looks wonderful!

Dragon said...

The dressing sounds wonderful!

Heather said...

i've never had fava beans. they always remind me of hannibal lecter, which i think freaks me out ;)

Monica H said...

I love your triptych- it's a transformation of favas!

Amanda @ Mrs.W's Kitchen said...

Pretty, pretty salad! I'm jealous--have never tried a fava bean and don't ever see them here. Maybe someday...

Sorry if this is a duplicate comment... strange computer things going on here!

Hayley said...

This is beautiful, and what a great tutorial. Thanks Sara!

Gloria Chadwick said...

This is a beautiful salad! :)

Culinary Wannabe said...

What a pretty salad! They should start selling bags of frozen fava, pre-shelled, beans, just like they do edamame. How much more convenient that would be!

Laurie said...

I love Fava beans Sara.. and this salad looks simply delicious and gourmet!

Barbara Bakes said...

What a great post - I'll have to look for fava beans at the market.

Katherine Aucoin said...

I haven't tried fava beans before. Their color is so pretty and vibrant. I'll be on the lookout for them at the market.

mamakd said...

Yum, I have never tried fava beans but this would be interesting. I'll have to keep my eyes open for fresh. I have yet to try preparing my own beans (lack of time, talent...)but I am anxious to try.

Pam said...

This looks really pretty and delicious too. I love fava beans.

The Food Hunter said...

I've actually never had fava beans. But this is making me want to try them soon. thanks

Pavithra said...

Wow first time here.. Nice click.. Like gourmet..

Debinhawaii said...

How lucky to have them all over. I love fava beans but have not cooked them myself. Here I have just seen them at Whole Foods looking a bit worse for wear. Your pictures make me want some!

Jude said...

Mmm been enjoying fava beans lately, too. Lots of work the shell and peel but always worth it!

Chef E said...

That looks incredible, if I pick up any better talent on plating is is from you girl! Gotta get my white box going...

Anonymous said...

cooked, vacumn packed fava beans are available at trader joes, as are green lentils and wild rice