Ah, the fava. The intimidating confusing mysterious delicious fava. Having prepared them several times over the last few weeks I am prepared to pay any amount for fresh favas - in a restaurant. I know how much work they are. How they blacken your thumbnails and steam up the kitchen. But I also know how delicious they are...
The farmer's market had piles of fresh fava beans. Intimidating if you haven't tackled them before, and the quantity you have to buy to have more than just a nibble is astonishing. Add a short season and it's time to talk favas. This is what you start with, this big heap of pods. Using your thumbs, pry the pods open and push out the beans. Like this...
You can see the pod to bean ratio and it's in favor of the pods. By a mile.
Pods go on the compost heap. Beans go in a dish or colander.
Now bring a big pot of salted water to the boil. The salt is to keep the flavor in the beans not in the water. Osmosis - remember high school science? Don't skip the salt.
When the water is boiling briskly dump in the beans and boil for three minutes. Exactly. No cheating.
Drain the beans back into the colander and submerge beans and colander in a big bowl of ice water. The colander means you won't have to pick out lumps of half-melted ice from the beans. Smart move.
Nope, we're not there yet. Now drain the beans, and squeeze each one - you heard me, each and every one. Like this:
They will slip out of their tough skins and you will be left with a modest portion of favas and a big heap for your compost pile -
Now toss the fava beans in a hot skillet for about 30 seconds with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Slide them into a bowl, toss on some fresh mint you have cut into thin strips - about a teaspoon depending on how much you like mint. A sprinkle of sea salt, and perhaps just a bit more oilve oil, and yum!
Hurry - the season is short and almost over. And this fall maybe you'll want to plant some fava beans in your garden. I'm looking for a nice sunny spot. So far no luck but I'll keep looking. Maybe when something dies I will see it as a future fava spot not a failure. Maybe.