6.24.2010

Fava Beans

favas, homegrown

Let me tell you a little something about fava beans. We grew some this year, unintentionally, as part of a cover crop seed mix. I had no idea what the plants were until a neighbor asked me, "Oh, you're growing fava beans?"

"Is that what they are?", I replied. I had wondered about those tall, upright plants with the pretty little white and dark purple blossoms. I almost posted a picture and asked if you knew. After seeing whole fava beans at the farmer's market for $3 a pound, I decided to harvest ours.

Shelling fava beans is a Process - yes, with a capital P. I've convinced myself over the years that I enjoy tedious jobs, so I appreciated the process of shelling. First sitting at the kitchen table to take the beans out of the pods, then standing in the kitchen to shell the beans from their membranes after a quick blanch. But the result was rather disappointing. A large colander full of whole fava beans became less than a cup of edible beans. So much work for so little food.

I made pasta with Roasted Garlic-Fava Bean Sauce. I'll make the sauce again, minus the fava beans. I used Rapunzel Vegetable Bullion cubes and the sauce came out like vegetarian gravy. It would be excellent over some mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Mmmm, I'm thinking zucchini, onions, red peppers, mushrooms.

We'll probably grow more fava beans, unintentionally, next year. After the first harvest, I pulled the rest of the plants and tossed them aside to compost. It's not that I don't like fava beans, I just don't enjoy them as much as Hannibal Lecter. Then again, I haven't tried them with liver and chianti.

Nah. Hold the liver and fava beans, pass the chianti.

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for the warning. We grow lots of black eyed peas, and they are labor intensive, but not so much as the favas b/c it's just a matter of shelling them. They are so good fresh!

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  2. no fava beans for me either. pass the chianti though : )

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  3. So that's what fava beans are! We call them broad beans. I'm growing them this year too. They are prone to black fly and very labour intensive in the shelling. Someone said you should cook them whole when they are no bigger than your little finger. I'm not convinced.

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  4. we have a few accidental fava bean plants too - i picked some pods the other day, and my husband said - oh, they're much bigger in the store. no idea if/when we will do anything with them. but our other peas need shelling too!

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  5. Our neighbor grows fava beans. It was last season that I finally figured out what they were. I noticed that he planted them in a different location in his garden this season. Perhaps he uses them as a cover crop too. Wish I could speak Luxembourgish so I could ask him about them (along with the rest of his incredible garden.)
    I see them in the grocery store here in Luxembourg too. I wonder how they are prepared. So many questions, rarely any answers - that is often life in a foreign country.

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  6. I picked some favas up at the farmer's market after coming across an amazing-looking recipe. The Boy helped me shell for about five minutes and then I was on my own for the rest of the process...the recipe was pretty amazing, but we each only got a taste and no leftovers after all the work I put in. Pounds of pods had yielded a scanty cup and a half. Oh, well. I'll bet those favas are doing fabulous things for your soil and your compost pile!

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  7. I plant them as a cover crop, but turn them over before they flower. They're so cheap at the farmer's market that it isn't worth waiting for them to get big, to me at least. Because you need to let them get big for them to be worth all the shelling work! When they're nice and meaty, you can simmer them with lots of olive oil and garlic and a little rosemary and salt and water until they're soft, and then puree them. Squeeze a little lemon juice over. (Basically Alice Waters' recipe from Chez Panisse vegetables.) Spread it on grilled bread! It's one of my favoritest foods ever, so don't give up on favas!

    Sent from the Apple store in Munich, where the y and the z buttons are switched on the keyboard. Crazy! (And yes, it took me three times to type crazy.) This message was a labor of love, almost as much work as shelling fava beans. Hugs!

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  8. I've heard that fava beans make a great green compost...just till them into your garden to help the soil, that was proabably why the farmer in Luxembourg rotated his crop. Fava beans are favored in Mid-Eastern cooking. Enjoy in the compost! :)

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  9. LOVE the new header. The "towel" rack is awesome!

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  10. My goodness! What a lot of work! I'm with you. Pass the Chianti :)

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  11. It's funny how we seem to mentally connect fava beans with The Silence of the Lambs...I had the same thought when I saw the post title. BTW, love the new header too.

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  12. that's how I felt about growing lady peas. they're my favorites, so I was very excited. More labor intensive then it's worth to me. I'll gladly pay $8 for 2 cups worth.

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  13. Wow, I have no connection of Silence of the Lambs and favas...but I suppose its because that movie scared the dickens out of me. Don't think I ever finished watching it. But, I love favas! My kids will sit and shell favas for an hour if you let them. But alas, I haven't found favas down here in Southern California yet and haven't been gardening for the last few years. Awaiting a good gardening yard. One tip though is to steam lightly and squeeze a lemon. Super light but tasty!

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  14. fa fa fa fa (say that like Hannibal)

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  15. I've seen a recipe for fava bean hummus that looks really good, but haven't actually tried. (Since I don't have any fava beans.) I saw the recipe at Finny Knits, if I remember correctly.

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  16. They sound like too much work for such a little amount. So I'd agree and say pass the chianti! The new header looks great.

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  17. Hannibal Lecter! I get it! I get it! Lol... The sauce sounds wicked yummy!

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