Fava beans

While dried beans are available throughout the year, their fresh counterparts are in season for only a few weeks in spring. This is right now.

Fresh fava beans are particularly popular in the Italian cuisine. You will find them as part of a salad (even raw), with pasta, in stews, as an accompaniment to meat or fish, or as a puree.

With their vibrant green color and their nutty taste, fresh fava beans please both your eyes and palate. If you come across them at your farmers’ market or grocery store, I suggest an immediate buy. Don’t hesitate long, or you might miss the chance.

Fried fava beans

Serves 2:
1.5 kg unshelled fava beans
1-2 shallots
4 tblsp. olive oil
A few thyme sprigs
200 ml chicken stock
1 handful of basil leaves
Salt
Black pepper

Crack open the fava pods and take out the beans. Blanch them for 1 min in boiling water, then transfer to ice water. Slit the leathery white skin of the beans with a knife, gently squeeze to slip the bean out. Discard the shells.

For a quicker version of this recipe, use frozen fava beans – you will need 500 g shelled beans. You only need to defrost them, then you can easily remove the white skin without prior blanching.

Peel and dice the shallots. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, cook the shallots over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until translucent. Add the beans as well as the thyme sprigs, season with salt. Add the chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover the pan with its lid, cook the beans for 5 minutes over medium heat until they are done. Then remove the lid from the pan and increase the heat to maximum. Go on cooking for 3-4 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated and the beans are starting to develop crispy brown edges. Cut the basil in fine stripes and stir under the beans. Season with salt and pepper.

I had the fava beans with pork chops, but they go very well with beef, poultry, or fish, too. I added some fried tomatoes, their acidity was a good counterpoint to the beans.

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