Favas beans, like fireflies, dart in and out of the Farmer’s Market in early September. They disappeared for a while but have suddenly reappeared at the Produce Station. Catch them while you can!
Many bean dips are marvelous because they take so little time to make. And If you’re looking for a quick bean dip or spread, substitute canned cannelini beans for the fava beans in this recipe. But if you want a bean spread with an inimitable, meaty taste, sublime texture and stunning lime sorbet color, you may find it worth the effort to shell the fava. I certainly do. Besides, the favas are so fleeting–a whisper, whoosh, then gone.
Fava beans require a two-step preparation for cooking. They must first be shucked from their pods. To shuck, I snap off the tough ends and pull away the string on the side of the pod. Or use your thumbs to break open the pod and strip out the beans from inside.
To skin them, drop them first into boiling water for one minute, to tenderize and loosen the skins. Drain and immediately plunge them into ice water. When they are cool,drain them again. Use your thumbnail to break open the skin, and squeeze the bean between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand; the bright green kidney-shaped bean will pop out. Now they are ready to be used in your favorite recipes. For bean dips I use a variation of a favorite Mark Bittman recipe which purées canned cannellini beans with rosemary and lemon.
My favorite way to enjoy the fava is puréed, seasoned, then spread on grilled bread. I’ve also added the purée to risottos creating a lovely palate and sublime flavor. Of course you can leave the beans whole and add them to salads or an antipasto. Many recipes call for simmering the beans to further tenderize them after peeling. I like the flavor after that quick blanch, straight from the pod. However taste the beans and decide for yourself.
Bruschetta (Italian crunchy toasts) are crostini’s big brother and make a nice supper, especially when served cozied up to a bowl of soup. I’ve loved serving this recipe on the smaller crostini as an appetizer. When I do that, I prefer baking the crostini until crispy in a 400˚oven. It’s too much trouble grilling all the small bread slices!