So I’m not sure I understand the whole mania over fava beans. Every spring, food bloggers and columnists wax poetic about favas, inevitably noting how short their season is and how laborious they are to process. Although I’m sure I must have eaten favas at some point in my life, I had certainly never bought anything or made them. But in the spirit of adventure and finding out what I had been missing out on all these years, I finally decided it was high time to try them. I had noticed that the favas had seemed scarcer and scarcer at the farmer’s market over the past few weekends and realizing it was now or never, bought three pounds of them at the last purveyor to offer them this season.
Turns out, the double-shelling process is every bit as tedious as everyone describes, but I didn’t particularly mind it. Sitting in front of a mindless episode of What Not to Wear with a bowl of beans and a garbage bag, it actually seemed a fairly pleasant chore. A shelling, a blanching, and another shelling later, my three pounds of favas fit in a small bowl and were ready to be incorporated into what is essentially a variation on a panzanella (or bread salad) from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.
I LOVE a bread salad in the summer (or really anytime, if I’m being totally honest) and with tomatoes not yet in season, this was a good alternative to the classic panzanella recipe. With little more than favas, cubed rustic bread, and chopped hard boiled eggs, it was simple and light, but filling. I was more than happy to have it for lunch the next day, as well. Here’s the thing, though. As Bittman notes in the recipe, you could easily substitute edamame for the favas and that’s what I’ll probably do the next time around. I mean, the favas were good- fresh, meaty, and slightly sweet- but they didn’t seem so exciting or exceptional that they merited all of the extra work. Fava purists, don’t be alarmed, but I’m not so sure simply using frozen edamame would have made this dish all that different. In any case, I’ll give it a try and who knows, perhaps I’ll have to eat my words and wait for fava bean season to roll around again next year before I make this simple and delicious dish again.
Fresh favas with eggs and croutons (serves 4)
1/4 cup olive oil
8 oz bread, preferably day-old, cubed
3 cups fresh fava beans (about 3 lbs in pods), blanched and peeled, or thawed frozen
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
chopped parsley for garnish
1. Put half the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the remaining oil and the favas and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and eggs, stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.