During my twenty-eight years of eating, i have never once been tempted by those overgrown, bulbous bean pods that occasionally pop up at the grocery store. No way. If I couldn't see the big picture, the possibly meal, by looking at the prospective fruit or vegetable, I was moving on. I have become more adventurous as my relationship with food has developed.
It is a natural growth we all go through. As our tasted buds fade away, we can enjoy bolder tastes. I see it with my nine year old niece. Her diet consists of pasta with no butter, white bread with no crust, and chicken with no spices. She has recently started fanning out. She plays around with eating greens, she tasted a falafel, she is on her way to discovering a whole world of exciting flavors and textures.
I too have learned to love bolder flavors, and even crave them, whole wheat and arugula at one time were my most despised foods, and now I crave them.
But it still took me this long, 28 whole years, to face my unease of oddly shaped shelled beans. So i faced my apprehension with the king of all shelled beans, the Fava.And you know what? It was Amazing. Not just the flavor, the whole process. The feeling of the inside of the pod that you crack open, it's thick layer of fluffy-ness feels great on your finger tips. Then you peel the outer skin of the beans, and discover their bright green color. And out of a enormous pile of fava bean pods, you get the smallest bowl filled of the actual bean. But, it is totally worth it once you make your puree-the flavor will never leave you.
I made this puree during what seemed like the last harvest of the bean in my neck of the woods, or tropics more like, but found them while vacationing and didn't think twice before i stacked up on them. If you find them in your area this time of year, i suggest you do the same.
Garlicky Fava Bean Puree
adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
If this is your first experience with fava beans, then you are in for a treat. Don't be disappointed by how little fava you seem to get out of the pods. The fava needed all that padding to protect it's intense flavor. And don't be dismayed by how much work it is to free the bean of it's not one, but two protective pods, you will gladly do it 50 more times once you have eaten the last bite of your bean dip.
1 cup of fava beans, already pealed****
1 big clove of garlic, or 2 medium ones, finely chopped or grated
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1-2 tablespoons of water
Salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
Add the fava beans and water, and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the beans really brighten up in flavor.
Place beans, water, oil and all, in a bowl. Add the garlic, and a pinch of salt, and mash the beans.
You can do this using a food processor, immersion blender, or potato masher. Mash it until it is a smooth creamy mixture. You may need to add more oil or water to achieve your desired result.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Place in a nice bowl, and serve with your favorite crackers.
****To peal the fava beans, you must first free it from its pod by cracking it in half, and scooping out the beans. Next, you must peel of the second layer. You can do one of two things to do this. One option is to blanch the beans in boiling water for a quick second, and pop the beans out of their second skin. If you don't feel like going through the trouble of blanching, the second option is to use a knife to cut a small slit on the edge of the bean, and peel back the second layer. Either way works.