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Archive for April 8, 2015

TIP OF THE DAY: Fava Beans (& A Nice Chianti)

fava-beans-thedeliciouslife-230

Fresh fava beans. Photo courtesy
TheDeliciousLife.com. Check out their
recipe for a charming appetizer or hors
d’oeuvre, Fava Bean Purée with Feta and
Garlic Toasts.

 

For those of you who recall Hannibal Lechter’s upcoming dinner at the end of The Silence Of The Lambs, you can make your own version of it 9we suggest calf’s liver). Fava beans are in season, here for their brief annual visit.

Also known as the broad bean, faba bean, field bean and other names, Vicia faba is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae) that is native to North Africa, possibly Egypt.

Fava is the Italian word for broad bean, and is the term most commonly used in the U.S. In the U.K. and Australia, broad bean is the common term.

According to Wikipedia, fava beans are “among the most ancient plants in cultivation and also among the easiest to grow.” As such, they are cultivated extensively worldwide.

Along with lentils, peas and chickpeas, they are believed to have become part of the eastern Mediterranean diet around 6000 B.C.E. or earlier. They were popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans.

 
When very young, the pods can be eaten whole. But the beans are typically removed from the pod and then parboiled and peeled to remove the skin, which can be bitter. The young leaves can also be eaten either raw or cooked, like spinach.

The beans, which resemble edamame and lima beans, are green with a buttery texture and an earthy flavor.

 

WAYS TO ENJOY FAVA BEANS

Fava beans are a wonderful addition to any meal, hot or cold. If you search online for “fava bean recipes,” you’ll find lots from which to choose. Here are some ideas for starters:

  • Appetizer: In a dip for crudités or on bruschetta with olive oil and shaved asiago or pecorino romano cheese.
  • Main: Atop linguine or angel hair pasta, with garlic and fresh herbs in a sauce of butter or olive oil (for Easter we served crab ravioli with fava beans and morels).
  • Salad: With cucumber, red onion, fresh herbs (basil, mint or tarragon) and feta cheese, in a vinaigrette.
  • Side: Sautéed in butter or olive oil; grilled in the pod, then eaten from the pod like edamame.
  • Soup: In a creamy, vivid green fava bean soup (garnish with some whole cooked fava bean).
  •  
    Another idea: Egypt’s national dish, ful medames, is a stew of fava beans with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, usually eaten for breakfast (but you can serve it with any meal). It is a staple throughout the Middle East.

     

    fava-bean-soup-marthastewart-230

    Fava bean soup. Photo courtesy MarthaStewart.com. Here’s the recipe.

     
    If you miss the fleeting fava bean season, dried fava beans are available. But don’t let the fresh favas escape you. After all, would Hannibal Lechter eat dried fava beans?

      

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