Every summer I wait for fava beans. I am nuts for them. Now that I know that my sweetheart isn't allergic to them - how I worried! - we get them every single week when they show up at the farmers market. They're a bit of work - you have to shell them, boil them, shock them and skin them - and all this before you make a meal of them! On the other hand, once you've done all that, letting the fresh beans shine is pretty easy. I love pairing them with fat English peas, but when the English peas aren't yet fat enough, sugar snap peas are lovely, too. As a bonus, you don't have to shell sugar snaps.
Never prepped fresh favas before? It's not a big deal, but it is time consuming, so don't think of this as a last minute dinner unless you've already done the fava prep ahead of time, and don't do it if your back hurts! I like to do this the morning I'm planning on making a dinner with favas, but you can do them the night before. Do you want music while you shuck and peel? Yes, you do.
fresh favas with sugar snap peas and green garlic
makes 4 servings
- 1½ cups shelled and peeled fava beans (prepped ahead of time from 1½ pounds of unshelled beans)
- cold water
- 3 stalks green garlic (white and light green parts only)
- 2 tbsp toasted and ground almonds
- ¼ cup olive oil + splash for pan
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- cracked black pepper
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, topped and tailed (a couple of big handfuls)
- pasta (I used two big handfuls of quinoa-corn fusilli)
prepping fava beans
Set a pot of water to boil while you rinse your beans, then shuck them. You can "unzip" them if you are careful; pull on the stems and split them down the seam, then pop the beans, still in their jackets, off. Don't worry about the little caps where they connect to the inner fuzzy pod, you'll take them off after they boil if they don't pop off on their own.
Once the water is boiling, pop the beans in the boiling water and boil for one minute, two if your beans are very large. While the beans are boiling, pour cold water into a large bowl (or make an ice bath), then drain and plunge into the cold water (or ice bath). I chill a bowl of water in the refrigerator because I don't have ice cube trays and it works just fine. Let the beans chill in the cold water for about 5 minutes, then drain.
Set up your peeling station: I like to put a scraps bowl on my left and a mug for the peeled beans on my right, but you can set it up however you like. You'll mess up quite a few the first couple of times and wind up with a bunch of split or mashed favas. With your thumbnail, cut through the proximal end, or the hilium - where the scar from the little caps where the beans connect is. Break just through, then peel over the radicle (the little sprouting point) and under the curve of the bean. At that point, they'll just pop out, or you can give them a little squeeze at the closed end, just not too hard. Do this about a zillion times! Take breaks if you need them.
green garlic sauce
Zest your lemon, then juice it. Slice the green garlic into one inch segments, white and light green parts only and discard the very root and the darker tips. Blend, chop or pound the green garlic, ground almonds, cracked black pepper, olive oil, water, sea salt, lemon zest and juice. Set aside in a large bowl.
Set some more water on to boil for your pasta, and prepare it as you like; I like it al dente at about 7 minutes.
While the pasta is boiling, rinse, top and tail your sugar snap peas. Heat your pan and splash some olive oil in it. Sauté the sugar snap peas and favas briefly; they should both be bright, bright green. Drain your pasta then toss in the large bowl with the green garlic sauce. Add in the sautéed favas and peas and toss again. Eat and welcome spring!
This green garlic sauce, only slightly adapted from thekitchn, also makes a lovely, bright replacement for tomato sauce on pizza - just leave out the water and add a little more garlic, one or two stalks, depending on your taste.