If you’ve avoided fava beans since Hannibal Lecter recommended pairing them with “a human liver and a nice chianti.” It’s time to reconsider. I have been easing fava beans back into soups, ragouts and salads in recent years, combating diners who have confused the bean with the often dreaded lima bean. These plump pods, look like green beans on steroids. Each one conceals four to eight pale-jade seeds. Their flavor, ranging from a pealike sweetness to the earthy bitterness of wild greens, is known across Europe and all around the Mediterranean.
If you take the time to remove the bitter outer shell of the favas, the nutty flavor and smooth texture of the baby beans go perfectly with duck, asparagus and peas in a risotto or pureed in a soup or smashed and spread on grilled bread and served with burratta cheese and balsamic.
Find your favas at local farmers markets right now or on our menu at Agricola. Here is a simple recipe that is fresh and full of flavor.
FAVA BEAN AND PECORINO SALAD Serves 4
1 ½–2 lbs. fresh young favas beans
6 oz. young Tuscan pecorino
¼ cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shell favas into a medium bowl. Break pecorino into small chunks into bowl with favas. Drizzle olive oil over favas and cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently toss salad, then divide among plates.