Fresh fava beans are in season at the Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market. First cultivated by ancient Egyptians, they are regularly eaten for breakfast and used for falafel. Fava beans are a common ingredient in middle Eastern and European cuisine and a common snack in southwest Asia, but are relatively unknown here in North America.
The pods are long (about 5 to 7 inches), fat, and slightly thicker around each of the large, flat beans. The edible part of the bean is encased in a thick skin, which needs to be removed before eating. Even though the preparation is labor-intensive, chefs and adventurous foodies rave about the mild, slightly bitter-tasting beans. A pound of fava beans in their pods yields about 1/2 c. beans shelled and skinned. Shoppers at the Culver City Farmers Market are in luck because several stands are offering shelled fava beans as well as beans in the pod.
Fava beans can be found dried year-round, but can only be enjoyed in their fresh form during the spring. If you have not tasted fresh fava beans, you should take advantage of this short window of time to buy some.
Fava Beans with Lemon and Dill
4 lbs. fresh fava beans in their pds
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 T fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
optional: wafer thin slices of lemon peel, white portion removed, to garnish
Shell the fava beans. Bring a quart of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Cook the fava beans for one minute. Cool under cold running water. To remove the skins, grab the skin and pull firmly. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute until tender (about 10 minutes). Stir in the chopped scallions and turn off heat. Whisk together the remaining oil, juice and a pinch of salt. Pour it over the beans and add 2/3-3/4 of the dill. Stir gently until adequately mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. May be served warm or cold. (Adopted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.)
Fettucine con Fava e Pancetta
Good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fava, blanched and peeled
1/4 cup pancetta, dice
1/3 cup white wine
1 small head of escarole shredded
Start water for pasta add salt and wait for it to boil.
Saute pancetta in oil until edges brown. Add wine and reduce until syrupy. Remove from heat.
Put pasta in salted water.
When pasta is half-way done, reheat sauce and add fave. Mix and heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 C of pasta water and escarole.
Drain pasta. When escarole has wilted, serve over pasta salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle freshly grated pecorino.
Shrimp and Fava Bean Salad
2 tablespoon olive oil
About 2 ounces prosciutto cut into tiny dice (about 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 pound shrimp, shelled (or 10 ounces shelled shrimp)
1 pound fresh, unshelled fava beans
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil and butter in skillet over moderate heat. Add ham and garlic and toss for a minute. Add shrimp, favas and thyme, and toss just until shrimp become pink.
Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Cover pan and cook on lowest heat possible for 1 to 2 minutes, or until shrimp are just cooked through and juices exude slightly. Serve immediately.
(adopted from fava bean recipe provided by NPR’s Kitchen Window)
The Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market is held each Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. on Main St.
Katie Malich has never shelled her own fava beans. (Editor’s Note- Maybe today is the day.)