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Tuesday
Apr272010

Nature's Jewel Box.....the first fava bean harvest

Late last October we spent a windy afternoon at the farmer's market in Monterey. One of our favorite vendors convinced us to purchase six little fava bean plants. He warned that they would not grow quickly, that we would eventually get some flowers, but no fava beans until May. He advised that the plants would grow to around 36 inches in height. We paid him for the plants & gave them a home in our winter garden.  

They were 48 inches high and producing abundant flowers in February. The plants are a soft green & the blossoms are white with black dots resembling little orchids. 

Today, April 27, the plants are over six feet high and covered with dozens and dozens of huge fava beans. 

The biggest bean!

This afternoon we harvested the largest of the beans with plans for fresh fava bean puree served with grilled bread, soft goat cheese and olive oil for our dinner. What could possibly be better on a warm spring evening?

42 Pods.....

 

The shelling of fava beans is a somewhat zen experience. The pods are perfectly smooth & green.When zipped open the velvety surface is revealed and cradles the perfect little beans. 

Fresh from the pods...

 

Fava Bean Harvest....the stats:

2 1/5# fava beans in their pods

42 pods

Usable individual beans - 210

Bean skins - 1#

Usable fava beans - 3/4#

Finally...fresh fava bean puree! The process from harvest to finished product was about 2 hours and worth every minute.  There is an enormous amount of waste when cleaning fava beans and the work can seem tedious. One night in our restaurant we served gorgeous grilled spring lamb chops garnished with fresh fava beans. The staff spent hours that afternoon cleaning, blanching and peeling the little beauties.  As our dinner service progressed a few plates came back with the lamb eaten, but the fava beans untouched. The indignant faces of my crew were just priceless. How could anyone let these little gems end up in the garbage???

 

Fresh Fava Bean Puree

2 1/5# fava beans

2 small cloves garlic

2 TBL best quality extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

1 TBL lemon juice

Cracked black pepper

Shell the fava beans. Bring a pot of water to the boil & blanche the shelled beans for 30 seconds. Remove beans to an ice bath to stop cooking. 

Prepare a bowl with a little lemon juice and water. Slip the fava beans from their skins and drop into the lemon water. 

At this point saute the beans in 1 TBL of olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt & lemon juice. Mash or puree in a food processor. Drizzle with additional olive oil & top with some cracked black pepper. 

Serve warm or at room temperature with grilled bread & soft goat cheese. Sigh and realize that simple pleasures are the best.

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