We Should Send Fava Beans to Afghanistan
(Mint Week Continues. It’s taking me longer to get through all this mint than I thought it was, so we’re either going to have to turn this into Mint Month or just start chugging mojitos. Vote here.)
When it comes to homeland security, I think we can all take a lesson from fava beans. Those bad boys are safeguarded by not one, but two hearty layers of defense. Layer one is a spongy, 6” pod, which you have to tear open to get at the beans, usually between 4 and 6 per pod. Layer two is a waxy skin, traversable only by a good blanching in some boiling water, after which the beans need a little coaxing to slither out. These cousins of the much-maligned lima bean are a really pretty bright green with a creamy, mild flavor. Since they’re only available for a few weeks in the spring, fresh favas are quite a treat.
But are they worth the work? You buy a pound of fava beans and you de-pod and blanch and shell and wind up with a fraction of that. And the last thing I want to do when I get home from another stressful day writing ads that will never be produced, is to start wrestling with my vegetables. Lord knows I have enough vegetable-related tension in my life. Could I have my beans and eat them too? Could I come up with a more stupid last sentence for this paragraph?
The answer was a salad that was half fresh fava beans, half frozen peas. Frozen peas aren’t as toothsome and tasty as fresh peas, but after breaking down the favas' tight security barriers, I wasn’t about to get started shelling peas. We’d be eating dinner around breakfast time.
We had this light, springy salad alongside Poached Salmon with Mustard Sauce and some of Sullivan Street bakery’s amazing bread, drizzled with olive oil and toasted under the broiler. It was light, flavorful and totally mintelicious. Only forty more pounds of mint to go.
Fava Beans, Peas, Mint, and Feta
1 lb. fresh fava beans
1 cup frozen peas, don’t thaw
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp. Extra virgin olive Oil
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Put a medium sized pot of water on to boil and the shell the fava beans. Have a bowl of ice water standing by, to plunge the blanched beans in, to stop them cooking. Plunk the favas into the boiling water for about a minute, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and get ‘em into the ice water. Do the same with the frozen peas, also for about a minute.
2. Drain the favas and the peas and toss them in a medium sized bowl with the mint, the cheese, the juice from ½ lemon, and the olive oil. Toss it all together.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste, and more lemon juice or olive oil, if you taste it and think it needs it.