Fava Beans Are a True Labor of Love

By Katzen, Mollie | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 8, 2008 | Go to article overview

Fava Beans Are a True Labor of Love


Katzen, Mollie, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Fresh favas are the happy, bright-green clown shoes of the shell bean world -- and the first to be ready each spring. Oversized and floppy, the pods seem far too big for the number (usually six or fewer) and the size of the beans inside them. And because the procedure for emptying the pods and readying the beans is a bit laborious, any fresh fava dish is, de facto, a true labor of love -- even if that dish is nakedly simple.

Think of fava shelling as a life-affirming unveiling ritual or a social craft project (engage your friends and children to help), and you will enjoy the process as well as the end product. (Note: One pound of pods yields only about 1/2 cup beans on a good day.) Depending on your bounty of pods and time, you might be able to accumulate enough shelled, cooked beans to make a small side dish for however many people you are serving.

With fewer pods and less time, just prepare as many beans as you can, and sprinkle them on top of an open-face sandwich or a salad. Or use them to garnish a mound of mashed potatoes or anything else you can think of. It's a delicate touch that speaks volumes.

Very early, small beans actually can be eaten raw. When buying favas to eat raw, select only tender, green pods and shell the beans just before serving.

Fava Beans in Olive Oil

Water

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (possibly more)

1 medium-size clove garlic, minced or crushed

4 pounds fava beans (in pods)

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put up a large pot of water to boil. …

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