This ancient legume is not only one of the oldest known cultivated plants but also a farmer's best friend and a chef's treasure.
Fresh fava beans, also knowns as Broad beans or Windsor beans, are only available for a short season in the spring. Fortunately, for me here at Dare 2 Dream Farms we have been having access to these super tasty treats for many months now. That is mainly because most farmers that are in regions with cooler weather grow fava bean as a cover crop because this plant has the ability to nurture soils with nitrogen, help cover the soil and control the weeds. It is very important to take care of your soil if you want a healthy farm or garden. They are also grown for animal feed and what brings us to today's recipe, grown for human consumption.
My history with fava beans is pretty special, I was working in a fairly large production kitchen in San Francisco doing catering and personal chef work. The chef I was working under was a very talented woman with many years of experience cooking fine dining in the Bay area. She even worked for Alice Waters, who is a legend in the culinary world, especially in San Francisco. This chef is the one who truly introduced me to Favas and to understand the special relationship they have between farmers and chefs. Below is one of my favorite Fava recipes, as a tribute to early spring and my history in San Francisco.
Fava Bean Puree
Yield 2 cups
4 cups shelled Favas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, for juice and zest
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp water
4-5 mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
First prepare fava beans for cooking, remove them from large pods. Bring a large pot of water to boil and have separately a bowl filled with ice water (blanching process).
Add beans to boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, remove and place in ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, remove the beans from their skins.
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Use puree as a side dish, spread it on toast, top it on a burger, add to your burrito or tacos, add a dollop on top of your eggs. Use it as a substitution for hummus or guacamole.
Photos by Julia Quintero
Pro Tip: Heat up half the oil in a medium pot or saute pan. Add blanched beans, garlic, water, herbs, and simmer for 8 to 12 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and blend in a food processor, or mash with the back of a large spoon. Add the rest of the oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper. You can add more water to make the puree resemble hummus.