I have literally been thinking about fresh fava beans for months. They pop like popcorn into my brain every so often. Last winter I was watching the Food Network and Giada had a recipe for pureed fava beans that really sang to me. I used to avoid the gigantic pods at farmer's markets because I had no idea what to do with them. But in the spirit of culinary adventures...Giada was my inspiration. I find that the more adventuresome I am in the kitchen, the more I am in life. So why not start with a green pea pod? Who know what will happen next.
So yesterday morning I headed to the Ballard farmer's market in search of fresh favas. I located a friendly stand and started slowly slipping pod after pod into my bag. They were much softer and delicate than I expected. They felt like they had just been pulled off the plant. And an even bigger surprise was the fleece-like layer inside each pod, cushioning the beans.
It was a beautiful sunny day, so I sat on the front porch carefully de-podding each bean. What a brilliantly protective traveling case for the beans. And every pod was different. Some have four beans like the picture above. A few had one giant bean next to a few tiny ones. Others had three medium sized beans. It was a little adventure seeing what each one would hold.
They look suspiciously similar to lima beans. So if you can't find fava beans, frozen limas would be a close second for this spread. I made the crackers pictured above, which will be the next post. They are super easy, and very satisfying to make. I also think a little bit of bacon might add a nice salty hint to this spread too. So if you have some, try it and let me know if I need to make it again.
Fresh Fava Bean Puree
Adapted from Giada At Home and The Book of Tapas
Yields about 1/2 cup
I did a combination of Giada's recipe with another one from the The Book of Tapas. I wanted a little more flavoring than the mint. So a combination of sauteed onion and fresh garlic really upped the ante. Her recipe called for boiling the beans in chicken stock. I didn't have any on hand, so I just used the pan from the sauteed onions for the boiling water, and it flavored the beans quite nicely. Mint seemed to be in every recipe with fava beans, and I happened to have some from a fruit salad, so that worked out just nicely. But feel free to experiment with other fresh herbs.
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup water
~ 15 fava bean pods (1 cup shelled fava beans)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp fresh mint, minced
Salt and pepper
Remaining water from boiling (1-2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Heat a medium saute pan on low to medium heat. Add 1 tsp olive oil to pan and heat for a few minutes. Scrape the onions into the hot pan and saute until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Remove onions from pan and transfer to a food processor bowl. For added onion flavor, use the same pan for the rest of the recipe. Add water, a sprinkle of salt and fava beans to onioned pan. Bring to a boil and cook beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Do a taste test to determine doneness. With a cup placed under a strainer, pour beans out of pan. Keep the onion enhanced water for the puree. Rinse the beans with cold water to cool them off a bit.
Add the beans to the food processor along with the garlic, mint, salt and pepper. Pulse until blended. Scrape sides. Drizzle the 1-2 Tbsp reserved water and 1 Tbsp olive oil through the feed tube while processor is still on. Blend until smooth. Adjust any seasonings. Serve on top of chicken or fish, as a dip for crackers or as a spread on a cucumber sandwich.