Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fresh Favas are Fabulous!

Yes, I know. Preparing fresh fava beans is a lot of work. All that husking, steaming and peeling; the big mound of green pods which shrinks into a modest bowl of beans, the dark fava juice stains on your fingertips, the pile of empty husks to schlep out to the compost bin. But there's nothing as fabulous in the height of springtime as a bowl of delicate fresh fave to savor slowly after hard labor.

The fava season is very short and is awaited eagerly by aficionados. If you spot fresh favas in the produce market, take a generous quantity home or you may have to wait till next spring for another opportunity. Select unblemished pods and avoid any which have begun to split open or are too large, as this indicates that the beans are overly mature.

Shelling favas can be a pleasant meditative activity; sit with a bowl in your lap and enjoy the simple task of splitting open the pods and removing the beans. To cook, bring a pot of fresh water to a boil; add the beans and simmer gently for three to five minutes until just tender. Remove from heat immediately, drain and immerse in a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking.

When cool enough to handle, remove the thin outer skin from each bright green bean (more meditation, more compost!) Place peeled favas in a bowl, sprinkle with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and a little sea salt. Serve immediately and with the first taste you'll agree that this fabulous slow food is worth every minute of preparation!

Health note:
A genetic disorder known as G6PD deficiency, most common in individuals of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian heritage, can cause critical illness following consumption of fava beans. For further information, please Google "favism" or "G6PD deficiency".