Fresh Fava Bean Puree
Whenever I go to the Farmers’ Market I always get inspired to try new fruits and vegetables, although sometimes I have no idea what they are or how to prepare them. I didn’t initially even know that these were fava beans, and even though I’ve never had them and had no idea what to use them for, I figured I could look some recipes up online once I got them home.
I felt a little better that I wasn’t alone in my fava-ignorance when another woman buying them also asked the farmer what to do with them too. He had no idea; he’d just started working for that stand. Thanks to the Internet and a few cookbooks, I ended up learning how to prep favas, and how best to use them. Apart from serving them with a nice Chianti, of course…
Fresh fava beans require a bit of work to prep, but it’s the kind of work that I don’t mind on a weekend, or when I have some time to linger over making a meal. You start by opening the pods and removing the beans. The spongy lining inside the pods keeps the beans pretty fresh, so don’t worry if you don’t have time to make these the day you buy them. (I had mine in the fridge for probably a week.) Once you shell the beans, this is what they’ll look like…
They look good to go, but you’re not quite done yet. You need to blanch the beans so the outer waxy shells can be removed. Bring a small pot of water to a boil while you fill another bowl with water and some ice. (I also put a strainer in the ice water bowl so I don’t have to fish around for the beans among the ice cubes).
Once your water is boiling, add the beans and boil them for about 2 or 3 minutes. I remove them with a spider skimmer, but you can dump them in a colander if that’s easier. As soon as they’re out of the hot water, put them in the bowl of ice water. Once they’ve cooled a bit you can pop them out of the waxy shells, which should now come off pretty easily. When you’re finished they’ll look like this…
Now they’re ready to go! You can use them in salads, with pasta, or in a puree like the one I made here. To be honest, I have no idea how many fava beans I used for this. I should have weighed them before I started, but I forgot. I used quite a few pods, and probably ended up with maybe a cup and half or so of fava beans once all the prep work was done.
As for the recipe, I really just made this up as I went along, adding things I thought would be tasty. It’s by no means exact as I didn’t finish writing the whole thing down. You may need more or less of the oil, broth and seasonings depending on how many beans you have and what kind of texture you like. Just taste it as you go, and you’ll figure it out. Add broth and oil carefully though, as you can always continue to thin it, but won’t be able to thicken it up again if you add too much.
Fresh Fava Bean Puree
about 1 1/2 cups fava beans
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
juice of one lemon
1/2-3/4 cups vegetable broth
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Heat a small skillet over medium high heat and add about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the shallots and saute for a few minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute or so. Remove the pan from the heat, and set aside.
Put the fava beans in the bowl of a food processor and add the shallot/garlic mixture and a few tablespoons olive oil. Puree the mixture, adding more oil if needed. Scrape the bowl and add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Puree again, adding vegetable broth until you get a smooth paste that’s not too thick. Taste for seasoning and add more broth if it’s too thick. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.