I am not exactly a morning person, so I don’t usually make it to the Sunday market at the 9am opening bell. But this Sunday I needed to do my market run early before heading out for a day of tubing on the Shenandoah. This meant I had my pick of all the exciting new things that would get sold out by 9:30. And when I saw a few market-goers furiously picking at a rapidly dwindling pile of fava beans, I seized the opportunity and joined the fray.
But then I realized I didn’t know the first thing about choosing fava beans, having never bought them before. So I asked the man picking out beans next to me for advice, and that man just so happend to be cooking instructor and personal chef Oliver Friendly of Eat and Smile Foods. He told me that you have to squeeze the bumps on the pods to make sure there’s actually a bean underneath, because sometimes the bump can be hollow. He also said that even a chock-full pod will lose about 60% of its weight after the pod and seed coats get discarded. So favas are not exactly a cheap veggie, but people seem to go nuts over them.
Last night I shelled the beans, blanched them for a couple minutes, then shocked them in cold water and removed the seed coats. They went from this volume:
Still, it was enough for a nice little meal when I sauteed the beans with some other veggies. I chopped up some red spring onions and caramelized them in some bacon fat (I was all out of butter and olive oil). I deglazed with a good amount of wine, tossed in the beans, then added basil and chopped squash blossoms from my garden. Salt, pepper, and lemon juice rounded out the sauce.
The beans were buttery and sweet and mild. I’m not sure I get why people are so inordianately wild about them, but they certainly were tasty, and it was fun to try something new. I wonder if they’d be easy to grow in my garden next year…