Fava beans are my mother’s favorite bean. And beans are my mother’s favorite hobby. And yes — beans ARE a hobby (except for the refried beans in a can …). It is almost an art. Soaking, peeling, boiling, creating a dish — it involves a lot of steps, thoughts, love, and time.
Fava beans are the big magic beans that you imagine in Jack and the Beanstalk. Huge, green beans located in a floppy, large pod, fava beans are one of the oldest cultivated plants and are among the easiest to grow. Most of the world loves to eat fava beans, aside from Americans.
And yet, after preparing the beans with my mother, I understand why so few Americans like to eat them — they just take too much time and work! It is an extremely labor intensive process, and if you are a scheduled, busy bee Manhattanite like myself (even though I claim I am an Oregonian, which I am, I am also always in a rush and schedule every minute by the minute), it is hard to devote so much time to one single dish.
That said, there is something majestic and hypnotic, meditative almost, in shelling and preparing the beans. It reminds me of my Junior year abroad in Cameroon, where you just sit as a family, all working on preparing dinner. Old fashioned, and third world-esque, it slows down the heart rate and makes one more present. So even if the fava beans are not delicious (though they are incredibly tasty), the exercise of slowing down and peeling some damn big beans is a good thing! At least for me.
You can buy fava beans in most grocery stores. They come unshelled, looking very similar to a green bean on steroids. They are not overly pretty, as they are bumpy, big, and weird looking. But once you uncover them, you see these beautiful and perfect shaped green beans, and man, do they taste divine!
The beans have a buttery texture, slight bitterness and a nutty flavor. They are good as a salad with just a couple of other ingredients. You can even just sautee them with some olive oil and salt, making a perfect side dish for a summer meal.
Directions on how to peel a Fava Bean
* Remove the beans from the pods, ripping the seam off the pod, splitting it open and removing the beans. There are anywhere from 4 to 8 beans per pod.
* Once you take the beans out of the pods, boil them for 10 minutes.
* THEN, you have to peel the outer skin of each single bean. SO YES, DOUBLE PEELING means DOUBLE THE FUN! Sometimes, you get in rhythm and can pop the white skin off the pod, other times, it is more difficult. Boiling the beans makes it easier to squeeze off the skin.
* Now, the beans are ready to be made for your choice of recipe! Here are a couple of good sources for fava bean recipes: Huffington Post, Seasonal Chef, and next Friday on the Josie Girl Blog!!! So stay tuned!