Fava beans are cushioned in pods. The skins of each bean will slip off after blanching.
I'm not sure how many years we've celebrated the fava bean, but it's enough that it's become an anticipated summer rite. The resident head gardener plants just enough fava beans in early spring so we're assured of one or two pickings and one or two generous dinners. Last night was the first one of 2010. In looking back, we're a few days early this year. Doesn't matter, the Fava Fest is one of those roaming, non-date-dependent jubilees.
Fava beans are easy to grow but require some work to prep them for eating. Hence, one reason we only grow enough for a few suppers. I harvested the gnarly-looking pods in the morning and shelled them immediately. It's a pleasant task -- peel back the pods and see how many beans are nestled inside the soft, comforting confines. The giant pods may hold six plump parcels of fava-beany goodness. After shelling there's still more prep work before the beans are ready for cooking. During a break from weeding, I blanched the beans for several minutes in a pot of boiling water, dumped them in a bowl of ice water and slipped them out of their skins. Each individual bean is pinched at one end so the edible bean slips out easily. Pinch and slip. Pinch and slip. Pinch and slip. The skins make a lovely pile of compost fixins'. The beans go back in the fridge until it's time to make dinner.
Now the favas are ready for a quick saute in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. Quick, out of the pan and onto the table with lamb chops, garden-fresh greens, homemade chickpea flatbread (highly recommended!) and a bottle of pinot noir. Yum!
Fava beans take on a beautiful color after a quick saute in butter.