Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Falling for Favas

From the bean of Green Bean.

It was spring. May was upon us, peeking around the door like a child up from bed too early. White butterflies danced over the bolted cauliflower while cucumbers, pumpkins and zinnias sprouted and jostled for position.

The last stand of front yard cover crop - fava beans - tilted every so slightly. Ready to retire for the season. Purple flowered vetch and bell beans tangled in their midst, pulling the favas gently to the ground.

It was that, and my desire to plant sunflowers in their spot, that hastened the favas' demise. One sunny afternoon, we plucked every last pod from the stalk and carried them into the kitchen.

Fava beans make a fantastic winter cover crop. They inject the soil with nitrogen, edge out the weeds, provide winter shelter for beneficial insects (and, unfortunately, slugs) and, if you don't rip them out right away, will decorate your spring plate with their pale bellied wonderfulness.

If you've not eaten favas before, they are a bit laborious. Once mature, you must not only remove them from the fuzzy pod but also peel the outer layer of the bean. Certainly, it takes a bit of time but, finding it as an excuse to sit my over-active boys down before dinner, we piled our favas on the table and began slowly peeling, discarding and talking.

Before long, the naked beans filled a pot. We add a bit of local olive oil, salt and pepper - perhaps even a snip of thyme from the yard - and cook them until soft. Ever merciless, the boys take turns grinding the cooked beans into a thick paste and then, devouring the dip on baguettes or stabbing it with carrots. (Here's the actual recipe).

Come summer, my front yard favas are just a memory. I forget all about their fabulous flavor, their fantastic usefulness and their fall planting. But, every spring, I inevitably fall for favas.


JessTrev said...

YUM! Those look so delicious (and no, I've never had any). But no garlic?! I can't believe you glibly utter phrases like "local olive oil" - sigh. Amazing pics, too. Thanks for the tour. What a fabulous cover crop and adventure for your kids each spring.

islandveggie said...

I find it so much easier to slip the skins off once they are cooked. I love favas <3

Green Bean said...

Jess: Not a big garlic fan, actually. Of course, I don't really need it with all of my local olive oil.;-)

Islandveggie: Thank you for the tip!! You learn something new every day. I'll try that next time.

Darren (Green Change) said...

I steam them lightly, which makes the inner skin really easy to remove. Then you can return them to the saucepan for the olive oil treatment.

When we have lots, I freeze them in muffin trays after steaming. This gives a good-sized portion that can be dropped into stews or casseroles, or defrosted and cooked.


kale for sale said...

The joys of free innocent labor. I'm actually guilty of eating the inner skin. I cooked the beans and then dropped them onto salads. A bit of olive oil and some salt and they were great. But that dip makes my mouth water.

Green Bean said...

Darren: Cleary I've been working too hard! Thank you.

Katrina: Indeed! I'll have to try mine on salads as well. I've got one or two more harvests left.


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