Labour of Love – Fava Beans

fava beans

Next in the seasonal parade of local produce are fava beans. These silky green beans come in a large thick pod, nestled in downy white lining. They are hella labour intensive to prepare, but well worth it. Favas, sometimes called broad beans, are also available dried and canned but I never bother with these, they’re a completely different creature – brown and pasty. Fresh favas taste like an avocado crossed with a bean – buttery and creamy.

fava beans shucked
When buying favas remember that most of what you see will be discarded, so get lots. 2½ pounds of favas in the pod will yield just under 1 pound shucked, the weight goes down even further after the second shucking. To prepare, remove beans from pods and plunge in boiling water for 1 minute or until just tender. Refresh in cold water to stop cooking, then pinch off the soft whitish skin surrounding each bean to reveal the tender jade green favas. You will be rewarded with a large pile of garbage and a small precious bowl of beans. Only the tiniest beans about the size of your baby fingernail don’t need to have their skins removed.

fava bean curly endive fennel salad
I like favas best lightly dressed in salads. Here I’ve paired them with curly endive and fennel. There happened to be blood oranges everywhere in the market so I decided to use them in the vinaigrette.

blood orange vinaigrette for fava bean salad

fava bean curly endive fennel salad

Fava bean, curly endive and fennel salad with blood orange vinaigrette

For the salad

¾ cup fava beans, shucked
½ bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
½ head of curly endive, thick stems removed and torn into pieces

Cook fava beans in boiling salted water for 1 – 2 minutes, until just tender. Rinse under cold water or plunge in ice bath to stop cooking, then squeeze beans from skins.

In a large salad bowl combine curly endive and fennel. Top with fava beans.

Just before serving toss salad with vinaigrette (recipe below).

Blood orange vinaigrette

½ shallot, finely minced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of one small blood orange (approx 1/8 cup)
1 tsp mustard
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 sprigs of tarragon, leaves plucked from stems and chopped
salt and pepper

In a small bowl pour vinegar over shallot, add a pinch of salt, and let sit for at least 15 minutes. The vinegar will act on the shallot, mellowing it and turning it a lovely pink colour.

Mix in mustard and blood orange juice, then slowly mix in olive oil. Finally stir in the tarragon, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

shelling fava beans

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