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Fava Bean and Fennel Salad

Fava Bean and Fennel Salad

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Lenny loves fava beans, so much that they might compete with a runny egg, which he thinks is king!  Typically we use fava beans in one of his  favorite Portuguese dishes favaish, or in a simple salad with shaved parmesan.  There is a farmer in Half Moon Bay which is about an hour from us who grows them, throughout spring as well as into early summer we enjoy them often.  One of our favorite recipes for enjoying faves is this recipe for Fava Bean and Fennel Salad.

Fava Bean and Fennel Salad

Not sure what a Fava bean is?  I wasn’t that familiar until we started dating.  Fava beans otherwise known as broad beans, faba bean, or field beans are native to North Africa as well as South Asia.  This bean does 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.  As I mentioned about, it is very versatile.  It can be fried as a snack, added to stews or soups, and even eaten with breakfast, the choices are really unlimited, use your imagination.  As soon as I find them at the Farmer’s market, they are used as often as possible.  

We recently picked 5 pounds of fresh spring faves along with some baby fennel to make springtime rich salad.  I love the combination of mint along with green garlic added to peas so I added it to the mix.  The very simple and light dressing is perfect.

The drawback of fava beans is that you do need to peel them.  And you need to peel them twice.  The first peel is rather simple as you will merely 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 our is by gently branching them in salted water, then gently popping out the bean.  It does not take much time and definitely worth the extra effort.  

I like serving this Fava Bean and Fennel Salad alongside a grilled white fish or salmon.  

Tips: 

  • Take the time to peel the Favas twice.  First from the pod and then from the tougher membrane.  It makes a big difference from delicate to tough and rubbery.  
  • Use fresh fava beans, while frozen are usually peeled twice this salad recipe is not the same using frozen.  Frozen tend to be a bit more watery as well as mushy.
  • Let the fava beans dry a bit after removing from the membrane.  The dressing will adhere to the favas better if they are dry.
  • If you cannot find red baby spring onions, then use about 1 tablespoon of red onion that has been soaked in cold water for 10 minutes to remove the bitterness.
  • As well, if you cannot find green garlic, skip garlic all together as I find dried garlic to be a bit harsh with this salad.

Fava Bean and Fennel Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Fava Bean and Fennel Salad

Fava Bean and Fennel Salad

Using the best of springtime farmer's market finds, fava beans, fennel, green garlic, mint, and baby spring onions to make this delightful sala.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds fresh fava beans
  • 1 small fennel, leafy tops removed, sliced thinly
  • 1 small green garlic bulb, thinly sliced (see tips about)
  • 1 small red spring onion, thinly sliced(see tips about)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons mint, minced
  • a few small fennel fronds, for garnish
  • maldon salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

    Prepare the Fava Beans:

    Remove the fava beans from the pods.

    Lay paper towels on a baking sheet or on top of a clean kitchen counter.  

    Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and toss in the fava beans for 2 minutes.  

    Drain the fava beans and immediately spray with cold water for 30 seconds,  just until cool enough to touch.

    Remove the delicate fava bean from the tough membrane.  It should pop right out but if it needs a little guidance, knick the top of the bean with your finger nail or small knife, then it will pop out.

    Lay the fava beans on top of the paper towel and let dry.

    Putting the Salad together:

    In a jar, shake together the olive oil and lemon juice.

    Lightly toss the favas with the fennel, mint, , green garlic, and spring onoins, along with the dressing.

    Plate and garnish with the fennel fronds and a little more mint.

    Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

    Serve.

    Eat.

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Joan Nova

Wednesday 27th of May 2009

Simple but beautiful. I like the idea of using the fava in a salad and when married with fennel and a light vinaigrette, it must be delicious.

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