Tag Archives: fava beans

Pasta with fava beans & mint

26 Jun

I can’t look at a fresh fava bean without thinking of an old Japanese man, a round piece of cheese, and a long ago flight from JFK to O’Hare.

Stick with me here. It’ll all make sense in a minute.

See, I was sitting in my usual aisle seat in a three-across setup. The center seat was unoccupied and at the window was the elderly man that I just mentioned. One of the items on the meal tray (remember those?) was a little round cheese snack wrapped in red wax. You know the type, I’m sure.

Evidently, my traveling companion did not. Through the corner of my eye I watched as the man picked up the cheese. He ran his fingers over the shiny red wax, tapped at it a couple of times and then quickly popped the whole thing into his mouth and began to chew.

And chew.

And chew.

I didn’t have the heart to risk having the old man see me unwrap the cheese and eat it the proper way. Why embarrass the guy? And so when the flight attendant came to collect our emptied trays my wax-encased cheese snack was still on it, untouched.

Which is to say that fresh fava beans must first be unwrapped before you make this pretty swell pasta dish with them.

Hey, I’m just trying to help.

This is around two pounds of fresh favas.

When you open the pod this is what you’ll find. Just pop all the beans out and toss the pods.

Rinse the beans in cold water.

Blanch them in well-salted water for a minute. Make sure not to toss the water because you are planning to cook the pasta in it. You are planning on doing that, right?

Using a slotted spoon remove the beans from the boiling water and toss them into an ice bath. This will prevent the favas from becoming overcooked and mushy, which can happen pretty quickly.

What you need to do now is pop the edible bean out from inside the shell, like so.

Just in case you haven’t seen it before, this is what we’re dealing with. The bright green bean on the left is the edible fava; on the right is a bean that’s still in its outer shell.

What I wound up with is around a cup’s worth of cooked favas.

In a large pan saute one large shallot, four or five garlic cloves and some hot pepper in olive oil until softened but not browned.

Add the beans, a dozen or so chopped mint leaves and the zest of one small lemon. Stir and saute for a minute.

Then just stir in your pasta (a half pound here), some pasta water to moisten things (a half cup or so), and maybe 3/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

And that is that.

Ready to serve. And no unnecessary chewing.

Fava & cheese salad

17 Aug

I’m pretty sure this will be the shortest thing that I have ever written. 
So, you got your fava beans — your raw fava beans. Since they are not terribly young favas (which I like to keep intact) you extract the beans from their outer layer of skin.
Toss them together with a good extra virgin olive oil, a good bit of chopped hard Italian cheese, salt and freshly ground pepper. On the cheese, I use genuino Romano (produced only in Rome, and not in great quantity) for this salad, but it is difficult to find, and so any good Romano-style cheese that you enjoy should do.
And I am finished scribbling now.
Oh, wait. An extremely hard-to-please associate of mine went positively pazzo over this absurdly simple salad. Just sayin.

You call that cacio e pepe?

2 Aug

Never underestimate the power of a good wine buzz. It can lead you to interesting places.


Take the fava bean-inspired concoction you are about to witness. Never woulda happened had the vino not first been swigged.

But swigged it was and so here we be.

See, I’d been planning to make a nice bowl of cacio e pepe the other evening (a simple Roman pasta dish made with cheese and ground pepper). But I got a phone call early in the prep stage, during which a very respectable bottle of Nero d’Avola managed to become uncorked.
Next thing you know I’m shelling the favas that I’d fetched from the garden that afternoon. And by the time I was off the phone there were a bunch ready for eating, but no plan on what to do with them.

So I did what seemed reasonable. I poured another glass of the Nero, stepped outside on the back porch with the dog and pondered the strategic blunder I’d made by getting involved with those damned (er, lovely) favas in the first place.

Soon enough, as happens often and without warning to me (regular readers know this) my mind traveled to (where else?) the chunk of mortadella in the fridge.
And so I chopped me up some of that.

And commenced to making the cacio e pepe — only with two pretty major additions that I do not think the Romans (that means you, Massimo!) would approve of.
You got your freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
And ground black peppercorns.
A pack of spaghetti alla chitarra.
And there you go.

Here’s a recipe for cacio e pepe from Saveur (they use two different cheeses, but using the pecorino alone is fine). As for the favas and mortadella, I tossed them in at the last minute.

Just as I was polishing off the first bottle of wine.

The garden grows

7 Jul

I don’t know about where you live, but gardening here in Maine last year was pure hell. When it didn’t rain it looked like it would. The ground was so wet, and for so long, that slugs and snails had the run of the place practically all summer long. A lot of people just gave up. Others threatened to, or wished they had.

Mercifully this summer is shaping up to be a good one. I have two plots at an organic community garden, totaling just shy of 300 square feet of growing space. After being away for a few days I discovered a lot going on. Here are some pics.

This is the first artichoke to show up. It’s the crop I’m most excited about. I have nine plants this year, twice as many as last.

Winters are too cold here for fig trees, so I potted one. The plan is to keep the tree small by pruning it heavily each year; and I’ll overwinter it in the garage, which I insulated last summer.

This is a first for me: cardoons. Looks just like an artichoke plant, as they’re closely related in the thistle family, but there’s no fruit here, just edible stalks.

The fava beans are way ahead of last year. Think it’ll be an early crop.

The chickpeas are also a first for me. Very cool-looking pods. Can’t wait to see how they turn out.

That’s it for now. More to come throughout the season, I’m sure.