Fava beans will not win the beauty pageant with their appearance. Their large, soft and often spotted pods make them appear as though they were picked last week and have been left to wither in the basket. Not true.
Fava beans require some busy work to prepare them for cooking. Have faith. The resulting product is worth you investment of time. Start by shelling the beans. You will note immediately that the interior of the pod looks like it is lined with Styrofoam packing materials. Mother Nature is clever.
When you have shelled the beans, blanch them for a couple of minutes in boiling salted water. Remove the beans from the water and plunge them into ice water. When they have completely cooled, slip the individual beans from their protective skins. Don’t worry if the bean splits in two. Use your thumb nail to break this outer skin and then pinch. The bean will slip out of the protective skin. Blanched fava beans can be frozen and used later in a winter vegetable soup or mixed with frozen corn and reheated in butter.
Reheat the shelled and skinned beans with cooked chard, spinach or kale. These beans provide an interesting contrast in texture and taste to the soft leafy greens. Add salt, pepper and a fresh herb such as thyme. Toss the greens and favas with pasta, and maybe add some grated cheese. They are also an excellent addition to risotto– add them when the risotto is finished cooking.
Linguine with Cream and Fava Beans
1 cup of fava beans, shelled and blanched
1 oz butter
1 cup of cream
2 portions of linguini
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or minced fresh sage or rosemary
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a non-stick sauté pan set over low heat. Choose a pan large enough to accommodate the pasta when finishing the dish. Add ¼ of the beans to the butter and mash with a fork. This will create a paste. Add the cream. Raise the heat.
While the pasta is cooking boil the cream to thicken slightly.
Add the herbs, salt, pepper and remaining fava beans. Drain the pasta. Add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water to the cream and then toss in the pasta. Check the seasoning and serve.