Salad Plate with Fava Bean and Snap Pea Purees
By Jane Sherry on May 9, 2008
Freshly shelled Fava Beans- 1-2 pounds
Anise or Fennel Seeds
Salt and Pepper
Spring and early summer are times to celebrate one of my favorite legumes, the Fava Bean. If you've never seen, eaten or grown favas, also known as broad beans, you've been missing out on one of life's short & healthy sweet pleasures! Native to the Mediterranean, I was still able to grow them in upstate NY one season and get a healthy harvest and hopefully, when we get our gardens better prepared, we can grow them here as well.
Fava beans are packed with nutrients, neutrally thermal in nature and are a wonderful vegetable source of protein. Many people here in California also eat the early greens, sauteed lightly or fresh in salad. For some reason, the greens are not my thing, but give me a fresh tender green fava bean any day!! As I've heard others say and write, it's worth the extra bit of trouble to cook then peel the skins, only takes a moment, unless you have a family of 10 or more.
They are delightful and easy to grow as are most beans & legumes. The very fleshy pod is padded on the inside and always makes me think of fairy tales when I break the fuzzy pods open to find the treasure within.
Just a few beans in each pod, once collected can be boiled or steamed in just a minute or two in a pot of salted water, just until they turn bright green. Drain, rinse, then let them cool off just so you can handle them, and slip the outer skins off of the bean. It's not daunting at all, really quite simple. If the skin hasn't split already, just take your thumbnail or a small paring knife to slip them off.
Once you have your pile of just cooked, cooled and skinned beans, saute the beans along with a pinch of salt, pepper and anise or fennel seed for a few minutes in several tablespoons of olive oil (if you're using about 1-2 lbs of shelled beans). Add a little filtered water to the pot to insure the beans don't stick, then cover & cook for about 2-5 minutes until the beans are tender all the way through.
Then place in a blender or use a blender stick or a 'magic bullet' to grind your beans into a puree. Taste for seasoning and add some fresh meyer lemon or regular lemon along with any extra needed oil, salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature on salad, bread, crackers or whatever pleases you. This would be yummy on pita bread or on blue corn tortillas too!
I served this once along with a green pea puree on a bed of fresh salad greens with olives, nasturtiam flowers with a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette.
PS: The green pea puree was my attempt to rescue fresh snap peas which I'd overcooked. It was delicious & went with the favas as a wonderful sweet counterpoint to the buttery nutty flavor of the favas.