Fava Beans!

I’ll admit – just two years ago, I would have categorized myself in the group of people that learned everything they knew about fava beans from Dr. Hannibal Lecter (liver & a nice Chianti, anyone?).  Then they appeared in my CSA share one week and I asked what to do with them.  I was surprised at the enthusiasm Valerie answered with – she really loves these beans.  A little research for recipes, and I found that seasonal eaters and farmers from around the country look forward to the taste of fava beans as one of the harbingers of spring.  After last year’s fava bean season, I find myself re-categorized.  So today, two different fava bean recipes – enjoy!

Fresh Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad

(found on the NPR website)

 Fava bean and pecorino salad

David S. Deutsch 

Fava beans are a spring favorite in southern and central Italy. This salad, adapted from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria (William Morrow 1993) is popular as a starter or as part of an antipasto spread. If you can only find a hard grating pecorino, use a soft goat cheese. If there are leftovers, saute the beans and cheese with a little oil in a small skillet. They are fragrant and delicious as a warm appetizer.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh fava beans (about 2 cups shelled beans)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley basil leaves, snipped with scissors
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste
  • 8 4 ounces soft sheep’s milk cheese such as a pecorino or a soft fresh goat’s milk cheese feta cheese, cut in small cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Bring a small or medium pot of water to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, string and shuck the beans.
  3. Add the beans to the boiling water for one minute, then drain & run under cold water to stop them from overcooking.
  4. Each individual bean has a waxy coating that needs to be removed – the bright green bean will look so much “springier” than the pale green casings do.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, and toss to blend. Taste for seasoning.

 The Verdict:

Obviously, I made quite a few changes to the recipe, based on what we actually had here.  I don’t know how true to the original we were, but this dish was full of flavors we love, so I think we made the right choices!

Tuna and Fava Crostini

(found at epicurious) Bon Appétit  | June 2006

Tori Ritchie

yield: Makes 6 servings

Favas lend a fresh note here. For the most robust flavor, use tuna packed in olive oil rather than water.
Ingredients:
  • 18 thin baguette slices
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh fava bean pods
  • 1 6- to 7-ounce can solid light tuna in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion purple scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley plus 18 leaves for garnish
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet; brush slices with 3 tablespoons oil. Bake until bread is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Rub fresh garlic clove on each baguette slice.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Set aside.
  2. Bring medium saucepan of water to boil. Shell fava beans, then drop beans into boiling water and cook 1 minute. Drain. Slip beans out of skins. Place beans in small bowl; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat.
  3. Combine tuna with its oil, minced red onion scallion, chopped parsley, and lemon juice in small bowl. Using fork, mash tuna mixture to coarse paste. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Baguette slices, fava beans, and tuna mixture can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let baguette slices stand at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate fava beans and tuna mixture separately.
  5. Divide tuna mixture among baguette slices. Top with fava beans and garnish each with 1 parsley leaf.

The Verdict:

I have what may be described as a crazy amount of love for all things crostini-related.  At our engagement party, Travis & I had several appetizers that involved crostini.  We (along with several of our closest friends) made about 15 loaves of bread into crostini.  That may be an exaggeration – it’s been 4 years – but I’m pretty sure that there were more than 10 loaves of bread.  We had bruchetta and tapenade, and I ate those leftovers for the next week straight.  I did not know about fava bean & tuna crostini back then, so it wasn’t on the menu.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love this version of crostini topping as well!

Acorn Squash Burritos

I don’t have an inspiration for this one, except the concept of repurposing leftovers into delicious meals!

Ingredients:

  • leftover Mexican Rice
  • canned black beans
  • frozen corn
  • roasted acorn squash
  • Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • flour tortillas
  • Sour Cream, Salsa, & Guacamole optional

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle/lower positions and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat rice, beans, corn, and squash in the microwave (everything except the squash can be mixed together or kept separate, as desired).
  3. Stop oven & change to “low broil” setting
  4. Place tortillas directly on oven rack, with about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on each one.  Broil until cheese is melted.
  5. Remove tortillas to plates and top with warmed squash, rice, beans & corn, and any other optional toppings you are using – enjoy!

The Verdict:

I absolutely love these.  I’ve taken to making a large batch of Mexican rice every week or so, and enjoying it in these tacos (with or without the squash) every few days.  These also make a great lunch, if you’re opposed to leftovers for dinner.  The key to a soft tortilla and melted cheese is to heat the oven, but then use the broil function.  We’ve found that just broiling results in a tortilla that is too crispy on top, but just baking leaves the tortilla too crispy on the bottom.  A little of both?  Just right!

Simple Pumpkin Soup

Here’s my inspiration (as usual, found at Epicurious), as well as my personal editing (I’m taking out these parts of the published recipe, and adding in these parts), based on what I actually have on hand:

Very Simple Pumpkin Soup
Bon Appétit October 2001

Ingredients:

  • 2 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin 4½ cups pumpkin puree made last week
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 3 garlic cloves, pressed minced
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder* some combination of spices from the cabinet: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and a touch of cayenne
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced crumbled feta

Preparation:
Melt a bit of the butter in a large saucepan and sauté garlic until fragrant. Add Bring first 4 3 ingredients and bring to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. If your homemade pumpkin puree simply refuses to whisk into a smooth consistency as it’s obviously meant to do in this recipe, it’s probably fine to pull out that immersion blender you got for Christmas a few years ago and blend the clumps out. Whisk in syrup, 2 tablespoons butter, and five spices powder. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. (Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.) Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with feta; mushrooms, dividing equally; serve.
* A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

As you can see, I changed the order of preparation (what recipe isn’t better if you sauté some garlic to begin), substituted some ingredients with items I had in the house, and totally changed the garnish since I don’t have any mushrooms on hand.

The Verdict:
I’m trying to keep an open mind, considering how far I strayed from the recipe. This soup is a little on the sweet side for me, which I think is intended to be balanced by the savory garnish of mushrooms. Even imagining the earthy flavor of shiitakes paired with this rather than the sharper flavor of feta, I don’t think that would quite overcome the sweet factor. Now, please keep in mind before you try this recipe: I don’t like sweets. I like my coffee black with a topping of whipped cream, I like my scones savory, I like my chocolate as dark as it comes. I’ll often skip dessert not because of any diet but because I would rather eat French fries than cake. My ideal pastries all involve lots of butter and not much sugar. So please take my critique as completely biased – some of you may love the balance of sweet and savory in this recipe exactly as written. It is still a really nice soup even if it is sweeter than I would like.

Here’s what I’ll do in the future: first off, there will be leftovers of this soup on the menu this week, so I’ll be buying some mushrooms for that. For next time (I do have 6 squash sitting in my kitchen, and I’m likely to get more each week for the next five weeks), I will likely sauté onions or shallots first, and then add in the garlic to build a stronger savory base for this recipe. I think that a combination of water and chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to keep this ovo-lacto) would also add some depth to the flavor. I’ll also cut back a bit on the syrup, depending on how sweet the particular squash I’m using is. I think that I’ll also serve some sort of savory roll on hand as an accompaniment – maybe a rosemary dinner roll, for example. I think with these modifications, this soup will become a staple food for Travis and I in the autumn (and heck, I’ve got 6 cups of frozen puree from this same pumpkin, so we could probably make this recipe again and again, only running out of puree next spring when our local farmers’ markets start giving us fresh options again)!

Here’s what it would turn into:

Melissa’s Simple Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Bon Appétit October 2001

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • ½ cup shallots or onions, chopped fine
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced or put through the garlic press
  • 4½ cups home-made pumpkin (or other squash) puree
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half or whole milk
  • 1-2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • some combination of spices from the cabinet: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and a touch of cayenne; whatever you like
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake (or other) mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
  • Crumbled feta (optional)

Preparation:
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan and sauté onion or shallots until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add pumpkin puree, water, broth and milk and bring to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. If your homemade puree simply refuses to whisk into a smooth consistency as it’s obviously meant to do in this recipe, it’s probably fine to pull out that immersion blender you got for Christmas a few years ago and blend the clumps out. Whisk in syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, and spices. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. (Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.) Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with mushrooms, and feta if using, dividing equally; serve.