Fava beans are a springtime fling; a love affair that just won’t last. Favas come into season around May and last until the end of June – at least here in New Jersey, anyway. I love them for their uniquely fresh and creamy flavor, but it’s a relationship that’s tough to sustain. Not only because their season is fleeting, but because they’re so dang difficult to deal with.
And by difficult, I mean time consuming. Favas must first be shucked out of their shells, then blanched, then each individual bean must be peeled. Why am I giving you a recipe for them, then? Because they’re awesome, and they’re unlike any other bean I’ve tried. While I do find them to be ridiculously fussy, I can’t help but have a soft spot for fava beans. I go through the labor of preparing them at least once every spring, and I do it with a glass of wine, some good tunes and a smile. They’re certainly not for the everyday dinner, and definitely not for feeding a crowd, but they’re perfect for a rainy day when you can sit at the table and zone out while you meticulously peel each and every one. It’s super zen.
The payoff is totally worth it. They’re so fresh tasting, so green; so creamy and luscious on the tongue. When you mash them up with lemon juice and olive oil, it makes a spread that gives hummus a run for it’s money. Slather it on a piece of toast with some shaved pecorino Romano and fresh mint, and you’re in for a real treat. A well deserved one, at that.
One Year Ago: Linguini Carbonara with Peas
- 2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled (about 2 cups)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for water
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
- 1 loaf crusty French or Italian bread, thinly sliced on a bias
- pecorino Romano cheese, for shaving
- fresh mint leaves, torn (about 1 cup)
- Bring a large pot of water up to a boil, and add a generous amount of salt. Drop the shelled fava beans into the water and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to a bowl of ice water, and once cool, carefully slip the beans out of their skins and place them in the bowl of a food processor and discard the skins.
- Add the salt, olive oil and lemon juice to the food processor and pulse until you achieve a slightly coarse puree. You can opt to leave it more chunky, or keep pureeing until very smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more salt or lemon juice as needed.
- Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Spread each piece of toast with a generous amount of fava bean puree, then use a vegetable peeler to shave thin slices of pecorino over the top. Sprinkle with lots of fresh mint, and serve immediately.
- Leftover fava bean puree will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.