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 like seeing the hours pile up on the plate.