Fava beans are one of life’s simple pleasures. Fava beans are actually an ancient food that has been around for thousands of years primarily in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The term fava comes from the Italian word “Fava” meaning “broad bean” and if you are in England, you will often hear that term. Other terms that are associated with fava beans are: pigeon beans, horse beans and Windsor beans. Fava beans are planted in February and March to mature through the summer, with their peak in July and August.
Preparing fava beans is a labor of love with its intensive process, however actually quite relaxing. The fava beans are in a protective pod that once the string is removed and the outer shell is removed, it reveals these little gems sitting on a “puffy cotton lining” inside the outer shell. Next you will want to shuck the beans, blanch them quickly before removing the waxy outer covering. The beans have a buttery character, delicate bitterness and nutty quality.
Fava beans can be served on a Crostini, in a risotto, sautéed with fresh English peas and morel mushrooms or just tossed with olive oil, lemon zest and thyme. I look forward to late spring and the first few months of summer to enjoy these delicious and versatile little gems.
My long time friend Rosanna, who is now a personal chef, came over yesterday to enjoy of day of cooking together. We have wanted to do this for a long time and yesterday was the day. I love to serve a small appetizer when friends come over and the Fava Bean Crostini was a perfect choice, especially with the wonderful bottle of “Duet” Louis Latour from the Vin de Pays de Coteaux de L’Ardeche appellation. It is a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier, with fresh citrus, soft apricot and peach fruit aromas on the nose are echoed on the palette to create a delicate, supple and interesting wine.
Since taking the “Thinking, Eating and Drinking” six week series, I have expanded my wine horizons and selected this wine from Trader Joe’s and for the unbelievable price of $6.99. The wine tasted like it was worth 3 to 4 times the price. Price doesn't always factor into the quality of the wine - it is more about the vintner and the region.
Fava Bean Crostini
2 C. Fava Beans
5 T. Olive oil + 1 T. Olive oil
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ t. Fresh thyme leaves
1 t. Salt
1 t. White vinegar
Olive oil for brushing
To prepare the fava beans, pull the string from the long bean and then open of each pod. Remove the beans from the pods. Each pound of fava beans will yield about one cup of beans. Prepare a large pot of boiling water and add the white vinegar to it. Add the beans and blanch for about 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile have a large ice bath ready to submerge the cooked beans into. Once cooled, use your finger nail or paring knife to remove the waxy covering from each bean. Place into a bowl.
In a small sauté pan, add one tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium for about 30 seconds. Add the minced garlic and cook for one to two minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Use a food processor and add the prepared fava beans, garlic with oil, thyme, salt and 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse until smooth for about 30 to 45 seconds and if not blended, feel free to add additional olive oil until it is a paste consistency and will spread easily but not oily.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the baguette into ¼ inch thick slices and brush with olive oil on both sides. Place onto a cookie sheet and cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until light golden brown. Spread the fava bean puree on each toasted Crostini and enjoy.