Fava beans got a nice bit of publicity when Hannibal Lector expressed affection for them in Silence of the Lambs. Well, sort of. I’m sure favas would have been happier had they not been mentioned in the same breath as human liver but still, good to be recognized. I suppose if an actor’s dream was to get on TV and then suddenly made his national debut on Cops during a crystal meth bust he would have mixed feeling as well. More exposure? Yes, but not the nicest kind.
I do not think of cannibalism when I think of favas. What I do think of though is one of the richest and deepest tasting vegetables I have ever eaten. I don’t see them as often on menus because they are quite labor intensive but it’s worth it. The prep is similar to the fresh peas in the Pea and Asparagus Salad but there is one additional step and the cooking time is a tad longer. Give this a try. I find this puree to be as rich as many meat dishes and it’s ideal for a vegetarian with a hearty appetite.
Fava Bean Puree Crostino
Farmer’s Market bill $6 /2 servings = $3/serving
Take 2 pounds of Favas out of their pods (I say pods instead of shells because the shells are actually something different) This step is not hard and you can put kids or friends to work doing it while you help or watch them and smirk.
While you’re shelling, bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil
Place shelled favas in water and reduce heat to a low simmer
Simmer for 15 minutes (I’ve lost track before and they are more than fine when slightly over or undercooked so no worries)
Prepare a large bowl of ice water and keep nearby
Drain favas and shock in ice water bath for 3 minutes
To remove the shells, squeeze the shell gently and the fava bean should pop out
Mash fava beans with a fork along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a serious pinch of salt and some black pepper
Toast 4 slices of good bread and top with a dash of olive oil and a tiny bit of salt
Spoon fava mixture onto bread and finish with a pinch of red chili flakes
Anthony Hopkins was so good in Silence that it may be hard to undo your previous fava bean associations but this hearty dish may be a step in the right direction.