Fava beans otherwise known as broad beans, faba bean, or field bean are native to North Africa and South Asia; but, they do grow very well in European countries as well as the states. It is believed that the Fava became part of the Mediterranean diet around 6000 BC or earlier. The Fava is very versatile, you can fry them and salt for a snack, add them to stews, or even eat with breakfast, the choices are really unlimited, just use your imagination.
Laudalino loves fava beans; they are right up there with the “runny egg”. We usually eat them in one of his favorite Portuguese dishes, as a salad with shaved paramesan or as an addition to soups or stews. We are lucky that there is a farmer in Half Moon Bay who grows them, most of the spring and into summer. We recently picked up 5 pounds of them, along with some fresh baby fennel to make a late spring time salad. I love the combination of mint with peas so I decided to make a light dressing using this as part of the base – it went really well with the favas as well as the fennel. The fennel gave the dish a nice refreshing flavor.
The drawback of fava beans is that you do need to peel them twice. The first is rather simple as you will merely need to shuck them from their outer pod. You will be left with a bean inside a slightly tougher membrane. I have found that the easiest way to get to the sweet little fava is by gently boiling them in water for about 3 – 5 minutes and then gently popping them out of this tough outer skin. It really is not that difficult but rather time consuming; well, worth it, in our opinion!
This recipe is a wonderful side for a nice piece of firm white fish or chicken.
Recipe: Fava Bean & Fennel Salad
5 pounds fava beans, see instructions above for how to prepare
2 small fennel, leafy tops removed. sliced thinly
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons mint, minced
sea salt, to taste
fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Prepare the fava beans. In a jar, shake together the olive oil, vinegar and mint. Lightly toss the favas with the fennel and the dressing. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Serve. Eat.