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Fava Season!

I love fava beans. Bright, flavorful and delicious, they are a springtime treat. I got some early ones at the farmers market, and thought showing you how to prepare them might be of some interest. After all, they have a pretty bad reputation — you have to get them out of both the pod and each bean's skin. But it's really not that hard, and the reward is worth it.

First thing: When you're buying favas you want bright green, obviously fresh pods. The beans could be big or small (mine, because they are first pick, are tiny) but once they get too mature, the beans are no longer bright green and delicious, but more akin to a lima bean (not bad, just not what I like). The bigger the beans, the higher yield you'll get. Figure for medium-sized beans, you'll get a cup and a half from a pound. I didn't even get that many, because they were so tiny.

Second: You do not have to laboriously open each pod to get the beans. Just place your thumbs above the bean and snap it out. It took me all of 2 minutes to snap all the beans from my pile of pods, if not less.

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Third: You have to get the inner skin off too. So, you put a little pot of water on the stove, and when it boils, tip in the pile of beans. Have a strainer at the sink, and after about 15 seconds, pour the beans into it. You're not trying to cook the beans, which if they're young, don't need any cooking. Just 'blanching' to loosen their skins. Then, you can pop each bean out of the skin.

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Now, what to do with that pile of beans? Here's a very simple recipe you'll enjoy, I didn't even measure what I used but just made it. I'll try to give you some proportions:

Fava Salad

For 1 cup of beans

About 10 mint leaves

  • 1 small sprig rosemary, removed from its stem
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated cheese — I used Reggiano parmesan, you can also, for a milder flavor, use pecorino Romano, or even a dry jack
  • A nice squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Pile the mint, rosemary and garlic together and chop until very fine. You don't want big piece of garlic in your salad. If you want, you can microplane the garlic instead. Combine with the beans, add the remaining ingredients. Taste, adjust seasonings and enjoy.

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