I’ve decided that my first post will be about fava beans. There are few foods from my childhood that I am more passionate about than the fava bean. An early summer produce, fava bean season is fleeting in the Pacific Northwest. With each farmers’ market, I find I am filled with anticipation and fear, anticipation that these thick, bright, fragrant pods of green goodness will be waiting for me to indulge my need. Fearful that the season is over.
Fava beans, also known, as broad beans are an Old World carry over from the Mediterranean. According to Wikipedia, they’ve been a staple of the Mediterranean diet since before 6000 BC. In my family, fava beans go back as far as I can remember. And it’s one of the few things my dad knows how to cook.
My dad is Portuguese. Actually, technically he is Azorean. The Azores are islands 930 miles west of Portugal, deep in the Atlantic, and are a common stop for sailors and yachters from around the globe. Some say they are the lost islands of Atlantis and if you go there, you will agree.
At our childhood home in Northern California, the hill next to our house was a sea of fava beans. My folks retired to Hawaii- where my mom is from- and on our last visit my dads garden is yet another sea of fava bean plants. When you pull the tender string of a fava bean pod and dig your thumbs into the moist fuzzy insides to separate the husk to reveal the big toe like beans, that smell? That’s what my childhood smells like.
Growing up, my mom always boiled them with onions and a bit of vinegar. We’d squeeze the bean out of the skin right into our mouths.
These days I do things a bit different, but just as simple. You see, I love the flavor of fava beans so I don’t like to doctor them up too much.
These beans were picked up at the farmers market from Two Forks Farm. One of my favorite vendors.
Boil some water
Have a bowl of cold water near by
Place fava beans in boiling water and blanch for 2-3 minutes
Remove from pan and place beans in ice water to stop cooking
Once cooled, drain and pop the beans out of their skin (skin is edible, by the way)
Saute beans for a few minutes at medium with olive oil, fresh garlic, salt, pepper
Sprinkle with fresh, gently torn mint at the end
You can see how this recipe is really a blueprint for any variations you may come up with.