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May 26, 2008 04:34 PM

Fava Beans - How can I improve?

I had fava beans for the first time this weekend. I bought them at the farmer's market. I prepared them properly but, is it an acquired taste? After removing the inner skin, I mashed them and mixed them with some mint pesto I had made. I used them for crostini. It was ok. And then I made a pasta with the fava bean/pesto mixture. This time I cooked the fava pesto a little more before adding the pasta. Do they require more cooking? They just seem 'raw' to me. I check their nutritional data and it is very good so I would like to enjoy them.

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  1. How long did you boil them in the skin? Last time I made them, I was afraid of over cooking, and they ended up a bit raw tasting, and I ended up not enjoying them as much.

    One of my favorite dishes is Suzanne Goin's pure - with loads of olive oil though.

    Recipe -

    1. You do need to cook them again. I usually blanch for a couple of minutes, pop them out of the skin, and then add the beans to a sautéing shallot in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Puree *that* and make crostini, and I promise, you won't be disappointed.

      1. Thanks MMRuth and Budino. I was also afraid of overcooking them. But when I did the pasta thing, I did saute for about 5 minutes more. I think I will puree next time. Hopefully they are still in the market.

        1. I compulsively sort them by size (usually into 4 size categories), drop in the largest ones, let them cook 30 seconds before adding, the second largest, and so on and so forth. I'll mess around with the cooking times depending on the size of the beans, how mature (starchy) they are, and the number of size subcategories. Huge pain, but I think it's totally worth it.

          I don't know how starchy the beans are in your market now, but if it's end of season, they may need a lot of cooking (I like simmering them in olive oil and mashing them). Early in the season, they don't need any cooking beyond blanching - next year, get them as soon as they show up!

          3 Replies
          1. re: daveena

            Thanks, these must be end of season. I hadn't seen them earlier. Maybe I was blind. They don't grow here ( I don't think) and so are shipped up from the US probably.

              1. re: sarah galvin

                Hmm - if you're getting them shipped up from the States, you're probably not getting them when they're young and tender enough to eat with minimal cooking.

                How big are the beans after you peel them, and what color are they after blanching? If they're yellowish-green, they'll need a *lot* of cooking - maybe baked in the oven with tomato, oregano, olive oil... if they're bright green on the outside, but the center of the bean is a paler green, they work well simmered slowly in olive oil and mashed periodically with a wooden spoon (they're ready when the mixture is half-mash, half-chunks - I prefer this to puree b/c you get more intense fava flavor in the chunks). These would work with the recipes Chuckles recommends as well. Bright green and tender all the way through, eat them plain, or in minimalist dishes (squeeze of lemon, some mint, some pecorino), or as a last second add-in (my fave this year was pea shoot ravioli I'd made and frozen a week before the favas came out, poached, dressed in scallion butter, with blanched young favas tossed in at the end.)

            1. I really like the "raw" nature of these guys.

              My favorite way of making them is probably one of the simplest:
              For 2: Take about 1.5 to 2 pounds, shell them, dunk into boiling
              water for maybe 15 seconds, 30 max. While peeling the inner
              skins off, melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan with
              a 2 inch sprig of fresh rosemary over low heat. When they're all
              peeled, toss into the pan, turn the heat up to medium, and saute
              for 7-10 minutes. Remove the rosemary, salt, and serve.

              Variations include replacing the rosemary with a tablespoon of chopped
              shallot, adding some garlic, replacing the butter with olive oil, tossing in
              some dried hot pepper flakes. But going for the simplest thing possible
              might give you a better idea if you like the taste. They definitely have
              an earthy feel that some people don't seem to like.

              2 Replies
                1. re: sarah galvin

                  I acually eat them raw - a tradition passed on from my Italian father, who claims he used to roam the fields and eat them freshly picked.
                  If more flavour is required, dip them in a mix of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.