I get the impression that fava beans are irksome to some people. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people at the farmer’s market say, “Wow, you’re getting a lot of favas. But they take so long to shuck!” I just look at them and shrug. I really love favas. They taste like the smell of freshly mowed lawns and newly dug soil.
But I view the act of shucking favas as something other than work. It’s a job made for relaxation and conversation. The job acts as a reminder that sometimes you’ve got to just slow down and do one thing at a time. (And trust me, I’m not usually that girl). I love to take two bowls out into the yard, sit down in a shady spot, and shuck them in the garden. Shucking beans and listening to the birds chirp. You can’t help but feel relaxed.
But I often wait for Scott to get home from work before I pull them out of the fridge to start shucking. It allows us to talk about the day as our fingers work away. And the job is always completed long before the conversation is!
I came upon this recipe last year, about 2 weeks after favas had gone out of season, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It couldn’t be simpler, and it’s based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home (by the way, does anyone else lust for that awesome farmhouse and garden?) But be sure to use nice tender beans. Don’t wait until the end of the season when you’ll find only mature, starchy favas. It just won’t be the same.
Smashed Fava Beans on Toast
Now, you know that I didn’t measure as I went, because that’s just now how I cook. But here’s what I used:
- raw fava beans
- raw, sweet English peas
- a few mint leaves
- aged Pecorino
I probably used about 3 parts shucked fava beans and 1 part shucked English peas. First, I threw the mint leaves into my big mortar* and started bashing it up with a small sprinkling of salt, until it was mostly pureed. Then I started adding the beans and peas, in small doses. (This is important so that they break down and don’t bounce right out of the mortar!) And I just kept adding them until everybody was in, and mostly mashed. I left it a little chunky and the resulting texture was great. Then I stirred in a glug of extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and some grated Pecorino. How much? It’s all about your preferred taste. Too much pecorino will drown out the fresh bean taste, so I kept that fairly light.
*I’m sure you could use a small cuisinart or blender for similar results, but you’d have to keep pushing it down toward the blades with a spatula since there isn’t any liquid in the recipe.
Then I dolloped it onto toasts that had been rubbed with garlic and olive oil, dusted it with a little more pecorino, and topped it with a poached egg.
Now that’s livin’!