Roman fava beans
Fava beans, in theory, are a spring vegetable, but I spotted them on menus all over France (where they're called féves) this month, and I've seen them recently in local produce markets (Whole Foods Market, for one) as spring turns into summer.
Here's a fairly easy Roman-style version, adapted from a recipe in my old but still available World of Creative Cookery pages,
There's a lot of waste and a lot of work involved with these things - rip off and throw away the outer pod, then painstakingly trim the tough skin from every individual bean, reducing a huge bag of produce to a small bowl of tender, flavorful green beans before you even start to cook. It's still worth it.
This version, based on a Marcella Hazan recipe, follows the Roman tradition. It's a dish so hearty and meaty that it could easily serve as the main course. Omit the pancetta if you prefer a vegetarian version, using a bit of olive oil for sauteeing instead. But if you're an omnivore, the pancetta (unsmoked Italian bacon) adds another dimension of flavor.
INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)
1 1/2 pounds (2/3 kilo) fresh fava beans
1. Prep the beans. First, shell them out of the pods. Then drop the shelled beans into a pan full of boiling water for just a moment (30 to 60 seconds is plenty). Drain, cool, and then pop each bean out of its tough skin. It's boring work, frankly, but how many different ways are there to say, "It's worth it"?
2. Dice the onion - you want enough to make about 1/3 to 1/2 of a cup - and mince the pancetta.
3. Heat the olive oil in a small pan, add the pancetta, and sautee until the meat is brown and crisp. (Use a little more oil if you're skipping the meat step.) Add the onions and sautee until they start to brown.
4. Add the shelled and peeled fava beans and stir once or twice so they're coated with the oil and browned onions. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste. Cover, reduce heat to very low, and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes or until the beans are just tender. Remove the cover and, if necessary, increase heat just long enough to boil off any excess liquid. Plate and serve.
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Thursday, June 23, 2005
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