Gaga for fava beans


Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Perchance you have made a joke about eating them with a nice Chianti and your victim’s liver.

But it is likely you’ve never come across them in your neighborhood grocery store in Salem — until last week, when you stopped by E.Z. Orchards for a  mixed berry shortcake the size of a 6-year-old’s head and happened upon them, hanging out conspicuously with the green beans and the potatoes.

They are fava beans and they are going to break you.

Favas are all about process. They are not the stuff of 30-minute meals — they are laborious, delicious, buttery little beasts that come wrapped in pods that look like Frankenstein’s fingers, all gnarly knuckles and spindly fingernails.

Buy enough of them and you could spend the better part of an afternoon shelling, blanching, shelling, cooking and eating.

Here is a great tutorial on how to handle your favas.

When you open the seed pod you will find as many as half a dozen, or as few as one, glorious alien seed sacks.

You will remove the seeds and blanch them in boiling water for a minute. Then you remove the meaty part of the seed from the alien-looking casing. Think of this as freeing all those little Neos from the Matrix.

My husband has likened the fava to the lima bean, but that does the fava a disservice. They are buttery kernels, slightly nutty, smooth like a good pinot. I sauteed these favas with half an onion and some fennel, added some fresh dill and half a cup of chicken stock. We ate them with couscous.

Is it worth all that time and effort?

I would just as easily ask you if it is worth it to wait for a wine to ripen. Or a novel to be written. Or a John Cage song to be performed.

I like seeing the hours pile up on the plate.

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8 Responses to “Gaga for fava beans”

  1. Walker Says:

    Minto Island Growers included a big bag with one of their CSA boxes a few weeks ago! They were great – and a bit of work.

    • Emily Grosvenor Says:

      That was going to be my next question. Where else can you find them in Salem? Sadly, I dropped the ball on the CSA subscription this year. I’m going to blame the baby — so busy feeding him I forgot to feed myself? So you can grow them in this region? That is phenomenal news.

  2. Amber Says:

    I can’t NOT think of Silence of the Lambs when I hear fava beans. Have never tried them probably because of that movie. I should get over it. 🙂

  3. Angela Says:

    Plenty of yummy fava available from Denison Farms at the Salem Wednesday Farmer’s Market. Sauteed with a bit of oil and lots of garlic – worth all the work, for sure.

  4. Leslie Says:

    I absolutely love Fava beans! Looks like a lunch-time trip to EZ Orchards is on the schedule for tomorrow!

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