Photo Credit: A. Kane
Fava beans are the most delicious pains in the behind that I know. It was about 10 years ago that I ate my very first bean in a restaurant, and it was sort of a revelatory experience. So smooth, so slippery, so green—they tasted of spring. I couldn’t wait to try them out at home. I bought pounds of the pods, so dirty and unattractive, and began to pluck the beans out of their shells. Three days later, I ate my first fava bean dish.
I’m kidding! It wasn’t that long. But there is the double shuck to contend with, and that can be a bit time-consuming. You see, the fava bean comes in a pod, needs to be released from this covering, and then blanched for just a minute or two. Once they are blanched, you need to pop the bean out of this tough, fibrous shell before you can eat them. But when you do, you will be richly rewarded.
I don’t do much to my fava beans. I don’t want any strong flavors to mask their appeal. I usually just brighten them up with a squeeze of lemon juice, and I toss them with a bit of fresh mint (Mint is best friends with the fava bean!). So you may have to work a bit to get to the fava bean, but you don’t have to do much to them to get a fabulous dish.
This dish is superb. I use it to top bruschetta; it makes a wonderful meal to have on a warm summer’s evening. But you could make this loose mash and eat it just as a side dish, too. If you decide that fava beans are too much work for you, this recipe can be made with peas, or even shelled edamame.
Smashed Fava Bean Bruschetta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
5 scallions, white and light green parts
only, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh fava beans, blanched and shucked (approximately 3 pounds in pod)
1/2 cup water
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Freshly chopped mint
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Sliced country bread, toasted
In a medium sized skillet, over medium heat, sauté scallions and lemon zest in 1 tablespoon olive oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the fava beans and continue to sauté, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Pour in the water, and let fava beans steam and the water partially cook out of the skillet. Turn the heat off.
With a hand masher, or serving fork, lightly smash some of the fava beans. Mixture should be loose, but still partially intact. Squeeze lemon juice over mixture, add the additional tablespoon of olive oil, taste, and season again with salt and pepper if needed.
Spoon fava bean mixture over pieces of toasted country bread. Sprinkle with fresh mint, and Parmesan shavings. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.
Adrienne Kane is a writer and photographer. She is the author of a memoir, Cooking and Screaming, and the food blog, nosheteria.com
Have you ever tried fava beans? Chime in below!