SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The first fava beans of the season are turning up in markets and onto plates and they are amazing. I like to pick the largest ones I can find this time of year, because they are so fresh and delicious.

I was fortunate enough to pick a few large ones right out of the garden. It’s good to pick them that size since I know they’ll be fleshy, wonderful and not overripe. Later in the season they start turning yellow and the distinctive flavor is lost. Try to get them when they are at the most delicate, beautiful green color.

Once I had a friend in Italy who was actually shocked to see that we were peeling the individual beans. Of course, in Italy, they eat the whole pod. Another important note is that they’re picking the pod when it’s as small as a blue lake string bean.

Here’s what you can do with the fava beans once you get them home from the market. Drop them into a pot of boiling water — tough skin and all. After doing that for only about 30 seconds, you drain them, put them in cool water and pull back the skin on one side, squeeze gently between your thumb and forefinger and the flesh just pops out. I guarantee it’s worth the trouble.

I did a simple stir-fry with some onions, a little bit of fennel, olive oil and tossed in my beans. You just need to warm them and it’s absolutely marvelous served with pasta or over rice and even in a soup. Now is the time to enjoy them, so take advantage.


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