Monday, July 20, 2009

The US seems Fava-less. Why?

Have you ever seen fava beans so large? Yes those are favas next to regular sized baguettes! I happen to love fava beans but they are hard to find at home. I race to the markets in the spring time on my annual fava hunt and this year I could not find them at any of the groceries I frequent including Whole Foods but did manage to find them at Plum, a tiny produce only market in the South End of Boston. We happened to be in town that day and I found lovely fava beans which I prepared over salmon later that night. After watching my 6 year old son gobble them up like m&m's I decided to get more. Unfortunately not. After searching all the markets near us for the magical beans, I decided to make the hour long drive into Boston but had neglected to call Plum first and she didn't have any that day. It was too far to drive to be making regular runs into town for some veggies. So I gave up. Much to my delight, fava beans seem to be a staple of the French diet and are everywhere. They have them in all sizes, at every farmers market and in every grocery store. They even have them frozen in all the stores.

For those of you not familiar with the fava bean- it looks like green bean but is larger. Once you open the pod you will find that the beans are wrapped in a waxy coating which you need to remove before eating them. I blanch them for a minute or two in some boiling water and then rinse them under cold water. I then take a knife and make a tiny slice in the waxy shell and squeeze out the lucious green bean.

Here is a pile of shells along with one of the beans. If you blanche them for more than a few minutes it is likely you won't have to cook them more but if not, you'll want to toss them in for the last minute of the cooking process for whatever you are serving them with to finish cooking. They are easily overdone so be careful not to cook them too much or they'll get mealy. If they are underdone they are a bit bitter so it is advisable to taste one after blanching to see how much more time they need under the heat.

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