Fava beans are something I had only read about in cookbooks or seen on the menu of fancy restaurants, that is until I arrived in California where the Farmers’ Markets were full of them and I was curious.
It turns out that favas, along with lentils and chick peas, are the only legume indigenous to Europe. All other beans are from the Americas! Favas grow like weeds all over the Mediterranean and quite often are used dried in soups or stews or salads.
This is what they looked like. I fell in love with them, even though they require a lot of manual preparation. First you have to shell the favas, then you boil them in order to pinch them out of their skins. Not until then do you eat them. Now I understand why most restaurants serve them as a puree or a light sauce because two pounds of raw favas will only produce about 1 cup of cooked beans. That’s a lot of food prep time spent on a very small portion!
The picture to the right shows the favas in their final stage of shelling; in the pot are the cooked beans, the bowl contained the favas after they’ve been pinched out of their skin, and obviously the pile to the right are the leftover skins which are not edible (or at least are pretty tough, so don’t think you can skip that step!
I haven’t experimented much with them, just making a traditional preparation of mashing the cooked favas with salt, fresh minced rosemary and some olive oil, which tastes delicious on toast or crackers. The other morning I wondered how that would be over noodles, specifically soba noodles, which are buckwheat flour noodles. It was pretty tasty so I decided to share.
I grew some because the cost was so high for the small amount that ultimately surfaced. Happily, they grow like weeds and are prodigious producers. Here are some pictures of those plants. If you live in California or a similar Mediterranean climate give these a try.
Smashed Fava Beans with Rosemary and Soba Noodles
2 lbs fresh fava beans
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz Soba (buckwheat) noodles
Shell fava beans and place in pot of boiling water. When water comes back to boil, cook for 2-3 minutes until beans begin to change color and you can discern the green fava within its skin. Drain and set aside to cool. When cook enough to handle, pinch out of skins and discard skins. Mash with a fork, adding rosemary, salt and olive oil. Cook Soba noodles as directed and add mashed favas, adjusting for salt and adding olive oil to ensure even distribution.
I’m sending this in for this week’s Presto Pasta Night, hosted by Daphne of More Than Words. If you want to participate, please email your submission to Daphne and Ruth at daphnesu16 (at) yahoo (dot) com and a cc to ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com. Then be sure to check the round up on Friday. Pasta may be an Italian word, but it originated in Asia, only brought to Italy by Marco Polo, so don’t let the word fool you, its use truly is limitless!