Last fall, Dave planted fava beans in our front yard as a cover crop, not expecting the plants to provide anything edible. Well, besides serving as a great cover crop, they proved to be pretty prolific bean producers. In the last month we've harvested somewhere around 100 pounds of favas, and there's at least that much more waiting to be picked.
|Look at that fuzzy interior!|
Favas are tricky. That is, they grow in a pod, and once you open the pod, you've got a bean in a shell. That outer shell is bitter and gritty, so you have to shell them again. Usually you do the final shelling after they're cooked. It's time consuming, but I find it to be an ideal group activity. Sit and chat while you shell, and soon you'll have a bowl full of ready-to-cook beans.
At first I wasn't quite sure what to do with the favas, and I ended up giving away quite a few. But on Memorial Day weekend, Dave and I harvested 20 pounds of favas (a full paper grocery bag) and took them up to a beach house where we were meeting some friends. We ended up grilling half of the pile in their pods with a little oil and salt. Once they cooled, we split them open and popped out the inner bean. They were delicious. My Peruvian friend Carolina prepared the other half in the traditional Peruvian style. You remove the beans from the pods and boil them in salty water for about 5 minutes. Then dip each bean in a wee bit of salt, and pop in your mouth. Also really delicious.
If you have the time and patience and want to go beyond the simply salted approach, you can make all kinds of dishes with fava beans. They're great raw on salad or steamed and tossed in with pasta. Or even better, substituted for chickpeas in hummus.
This version of hummus does taste a lot like the regular chickpea variety, but as my taste testers (aka my roommates) declared, it does have a unique and undeniably fresh taste. And though chickpeas might have a slight nutritional advantage, I still think favas provide a nice change from the humdrum of traditional hummus.
It is a little discouraging when you begin with a bountiful pile of fava pods and end up with a tiny cup or so of actual beans. However, I like to think that it's slow food at its best. Enjoy the process.
Fresh Fava Hummus
makes about 1 1/2 cups
3 lbs whole fresh fava pods (or 3 cups unshelled beans)
1/3 cup roasted tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts (optional)
Prepare the fava beans
Remove all of the fava beans from their pods. You should have about 3 heaping cups. In a medium-sized pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the beans and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the beans begin to balloon and pucker. You'll know when they're done because the inner bean will easily pop out of its shell. Drain the beans and run cold water over them to cool.
Shell each bean into a small bowl. I like to puncture the end of the shell with my nail and then squeeze out the bean. You should end up with about 1 1/4 cup shelled beans.
Prepare the hummus
In a food processor or blender throw in fava beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and cumin. Puree until very smooth. If the mixture seems thick, add a couple tablespoons of water and blend again. Add more salt and lemon juice as needed. Place in a small bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with pita and cut up vegetables.