Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spicy Fava Bean Mash

I am a huge fava bean fan and eat them as often as possible during season. I fill bags and bags at the weekly farmers' market and collect numerous recipes to prepare but, here is my confession, I NEVER follow through with the recipes. I prepare them exactly the same three ways every time: as an easy appetizer served fresh with pecorino cheese and terrific wine, or a light lunch/dinner first course mashed into a garlicky delicious puree spread on bruschetta, or tossed in a quick pasta. All three are good, but my favorite is the mash spread on bruschetta. 

Of course I will provide a recipe, but first I want to discuss the preparation. Favas seem to scare off many people. The process sounds complicated and labor intensive and, to be honest, it does take a while, but I make the preparation part of the fava bean eating experience. Trust me on this, you will enjoy everything from purchase to prep to consuming.

If you have never seen a raw fava bean you should know that they come in pods, kind of like a giant peapod, and you split the pod to remove the beans the same way you do with peas. The difference is the "interior" of the shell. O.K, you are all going to know just how odd I am when I finish this description, but I can't help it....I love this, the interior is made up of spongy, protective "stuff" (have no idea of the technical term) that cradles and protects the beans. It makes me happy just to shell them. You can't help but feel really close to the farm, even if you live in a major city, and having friends and family participate in the shelling really does become a party.

So the process is as follows:
*split each pod down the center seam (just use a fingernail to get started) and open like a book.
* pop out each bean

a fava popping out of the skin
At this point the prep depends on the season...mid season, you need to peel each bean...very early in the season you do not and you can eat them raw, straight from the shell. My mother-in-law, who was 100% Italian, shared the tradition of inviting friends over and serving early season favas this way. Everyone would shell their own beans and eat with sea salt, pecorino cheese and wine. The shelling, eating, drinking, talking and laughing makes a terrific party.
After the first couple of weeks of fava season you need to peel the beans because the skin gets tough and a bit bitter. So the next step after removing the beans from their pods is to:

*Add the favas to a pot of rapidly boiling water for just a minute (do not overcook)
*Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
favas with skin, out of skin and one popping out to show the difference
*When the favas are completely cool, drain and remove the outer skin. This is pretty easy as they will have started to pop out just need to give a very light squeeze and they will do the work for you. This is easy,but time consuming,so either plan ahead or solicit help :)
You are now ready to use your favas in your favorite recipes. They need just a quick saute and they are good to go.

I told you my favorite way to eat favas is mashed into a garlicky spread. Easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Spicy Fava Bean Mash
3 pounds favas (peeled and skinned following the techniques listed above)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 peeled garlic cloves, smashed
additional extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Add prepared favas, 3 tbsp olive oil and garlic cloves to saute pan. Cook until the favas are tender and can be mashed easily when pressed with a spoon (10-15 minutes). Stir occasionally during this step and add a bit more olive oil if necessary. When favas are cooked, put the entire contents of saute pan...favas, garlic and the olive oil...into a food processor or blender. Pulse until you have a chunky paste. I like some texture but keep going until it is as smooth as you like. Add additional olive oil and pulse again. The amount of oil depends on your preference. Start with 2 tbsp, add the red pepper flakes, pulse again and season to taste with salt and pepper

Serve the fava bean mash with slices of bruschetta and pecorino or parmigiano-reggiano. I spread some puree on a slice of bruschetta, top with a bit of cheese, drizzle additional extra virgin olive oil (best quality is important with this) and sprinkle a bit of grey salt....amazingly good!!

It is "Something Mashed" week at Food Network's Sensational Sides roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite mashed recipe? Feel free to share in the comments section or link to your blog if you have one. 
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Broccoli, Leek and Sweet Potato Mash
Red or Green: Spicy Fava Bean Mash
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Truffle Oil
Weelicious: Vegan Whipped Coconut Sweet Potatoes
Cooking With Elise: Brown Sugar and Spice Banana Bread
Devour: 5 Fresh Takes on Hummus
Virtually Homemade: Smashed Cauliflower Gratin with Goat Cheese
Domesticate Me: Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate-Pistachio Guacamole
Bacon and Souffle: The Best and Smoothest Hummus
The Sensitive Epicure: Trinxat (Pan-Fried Mashed Potato Cake with Swiss Chard)
FN Dish: More to Mash (Side Dish Recipes)

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