These little emerald gems paired with velvety mushrooms are a tasty summer delight! The beans are a bit time intensive, but with a friend and a glass of wine nearby, the popping from the pod, blanching and splashing, and stripping them naked — this is beginning to sound like something other than cooking — is well worth the prep time.
July is the height of the fava bean season and they are plentiful at local markets and in stores. If you’re not going to use the fava beans right away, store them in the freezer to keep them green. You’ll enjoy them throughout the summer, just be sure to gobble the frozen ones up within six weeks.
The pod is a cushy case about 8 to 10 inches in length. The fuzzy interior is the bean’s bubble wrap and helps protect the bean. Fava beans are related to lima beans, but they are nuttier and lighter in density. Where a lima is a bit mealy, fava beans are smoother and sweeter. They are the queen of beans! I love them and will happily pop, blanche, strip, and cook these itty bitty bundles of deliciousness any day of the week. They are terrific warm or served chilled, a perfect backdrop for grains and legumes of all kinds (lentils being my favorite). Enjoy!
Popping from the Pod
- There is a seam that if pulled will unzip the pod. Have a bowl ready to pop the beans into.
Cooking the Beans
- Prepare a bowl with ice and water.
- Fill a large pan of water about half way to the rim of the pan – enough to let the beans dance around. When the water reaches a boil, add a teaspoon of sea salt for every 4 cups of water. Then add the beans.
- Turn the heat down to medium high – a lively simmer – and let the beans cook until deep green – about 1-3 minutes.
- Immediately drain and place in prepared ice water.
Removing the Skin
- Once cooled, remove the beans from their bath. Squeeze the outer white shell and the bean will easily pop out. That’s it!
Fava and Mushrooms
- 1 cup prepared fava beans
- 1 cup pioppini mushrooms (shitake or baby portabella are also good)
- 1 large leek – white part only – fine chop
- 1-3 ounces fresh insalata Ricotta cheese
- 2 – 3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 clove garlic – bruised with the back of your knife
- Cut the bottom of the pioppini mushrooms off – the mushrooms will naturally separate. Give them a brush with a dry paper towel to remove any soil.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium low heat – add the mushrooms and sauté for two minutes.
- Add a few dashes of the paprika and a pinch of sea salt.
- Add the leeks and garlic and continue to sauté until leeks are translucent and tender- about 3 – 4 minutes.
- Add the beans and sauté until warm. They are already cooked so you are just reheating them.
- Season with cracked pepper.
- Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients.
- Drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil and serve.
Note: This is a delicious side dish our works beautifully under a grilled piece of pork tenderloin. It’s also a great pizza topping! If using shitake or baby portabella mushrooms be sure to slice them.