Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Learning about Favas (and a Spring Pea-Fava Pesto)

Once, there was a recipe that looked oh-so-very-tasty. It was a pasta with a fava pesto sauce. Fava beans were beautifully photographed in the half-shell. Scattered across the brown paper bag they were purchased in, the green, slightly fuzzy, pods had been discarded and a steaming plate of pasta was in the forefront. I made it within days. And it sucked. I mean, it was so bitter even copious amounts of cheese (my usual fix-it) left me feeling pretty disappointed.

Still, ever curious about the world of favas, I did some asking around. Illumination my friends, pure fava illumination. There is a double shell. Yep. Now, if you want to eat them raw, snack-style, the double shell need not be removed. In fact, one doesn't even notice it. But if you want to cook them, even slightly, the outer jacket of the fava bean has got to go. The way to do this is get a pot of water boiling, and in the meantime, start popping the fava beans out of the pods. Then toss in the pot and boil for 1 minute. Have a bowl of ice water ready for when you scoop them out of the pot. You want to stop the cooking or it will be too difficult to peel. After cooled, strain from the water, and pop the bean in half to reveal the inner bean. This is what you want. The outer jackets can be tossed.


Now that you've done a bit of kitchen soul-searching to find your inner bean, feel free to stick it all in a food processor and mix up into a pesto. I had some fresh peas around, so I boiled them for about 5 minutes (along with the inner fava beans) to do a pesto with some basil and Pecorino cheese. It was really nice on top some simple fish fillets (with the old peas 'n carrots stand-by, which, at times, can fit the bill perfectly.) But the next day, mixed into a pot of some perfectly al dente-ed spaghetti, it turned transcendent. Now, unless you are deathly allergic to them, run, don't walk, and go get yourself some favas!

Continue to Recipe...
Recipe: Fava-Spring Pea Pesto
Serves 4 (on fish or 1 lb / 500g pasta)

1 cup favas - removed from pods
1 cup peas - removed from pods
1/3 - 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
handful of fresh basil leaves
3 Tb excellent olive oil
3 Tb water reserved from boiling the fava beans
1/2 tsp salt

1) Follow the above-described method to get to the true inner fava beans. Remember to save a little cup of the fava-boiling-water.

2) In another pot of boiling water (or the same if you strained out with a spoon the earlier favas) cook the peas and favas for 4-5 minutes. Strain and let cook a minute.

3) In a food processor, mix together the favas, peas, grated Pecorino cheese, basil, olive oil, fava water, and salt. Taste as you're mixing and adjust as desired.

- Jo

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