I am happy to announce that we had a bumper crop of favas this year! With just four plants, I got a tremendous yield of these tasty, buttery beans. It took a bit of TLC over the winter (tying and trellising, trellising and tying… and a little bit of whining), but now that spring is here, I have been able to reap the reward of my efforts. Seriously, I am up to my ears in fabulous favas.
We’ve discovered that pretty much everything about this plant is delicious, even the leaves. Trust me, if you’ve never had a fava bean before (it took me a while to get over Silence of the Lambs too), they are sweet, have great texture, and are a delicious, special spring legume.
Harvesting note: Not sure when you should harvest your beans? They should be at least the width of your thumb before you pluck and eat them.
Shelling the Beans: I always “hire” kid labor to shell the beans. The girls love to help me cook, and this is the perfect fun, easy task for them (plus, it saves me from having to do it). Shelling favas is a two-step process. First, you take the beans out of their pod, and then peel the outer layer of “skin” from the beans themselves. It won’t kill you to leave the outer skin layer on, but the texture is much better without it.
Fava Bean Orecchiette with Arugula Pesto
Serves 4 appetizer portions
2 cups orecchiette
3/4 cup fava beans*
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup Arrugula Pesto
1 tablespoon minced fresh peppermint
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of red pepper flakes
* If you don’t have favas, you can substitute with fresh or frozen peas – the organic ones from TJ’s are great.
In salted boiling water, boil the orecchiette until done. Using a hand-held strainer, remove the pasta and set aside in a large bowl. In the same water you used to cook the pasta, cook your shelled and peeled favas for 1 minute. They will turn bright green and still have great crunch. After the favas cook, strain them, and place them in the same bowl as the pasta.
In a dry pan, toast the pine nuts until you can smell their flavor. They should smell nutty, but not burned.
In the same large bowl, add the toasted pine nuts, pesto, peppermint, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes to the cooked pasta and favas. Toss together and garnish with a sprig of peppermint and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This dish can be served warm or refrigerated and served cold.