I’ve been known to occasionally avoid buying fava beans (aka broad beans) because they require a little extra time to prepare. But I’ve recently decided this is nonsense, and that the process of breaking down a large bag of fava pods into the precious, disk-shaped beans can be an enjoyable and relaxing activity that doesn’t take more than a few minutes. In fact, I just read an interview with Sunset’s food editor Margo True discussing fava beans. She says, “They’re worth doing yourself if you enjoy repetitive, meditative processes.” I couldn’t agree more.
Surprisingly, there are many preparations for grilling and sautéing this spring legume while still in the pod, not to mention that you can buy dried, shelled fava beans as you would other types of beans. But with this recipe, you get the full effect of the bean’s verdant color and sweet buttery texture that is so evocative of spring.
This recipe calls for 2 pounds of fava beans before they’re shelled. Once shelled, steamed and peeled, this will yield the approximately 1 and 1/4 cups of cooked beans needed for this recipe. The sauteed leeks add a delicious sweetness to the dish and help to offset the slight bitterness that’s natural in fava beans.
This puree dip can be served either warm or at room temperature. I spread it on multigrain crackers as a snack.
- 2 lbs fresh fava beans (still in the pod)
- 1 c leeks, cleaned and sliced
- ½ t plus 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt plus ¼ t salt
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 T water
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- To prepare fava beans, twist the stem end of the pod, and release the 'string' that will unzip down the side of the pod, opening to reveal the beans inside. Pluck out each of the beans. (Each pod contains 4-6 beans). Discard or compost pods. Place beans in a steamer basket and steam until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. When cool enough to handle, slide beans out of their coating. and transfer to the food processor.
- To remove skins from the individual beans, dig your fingernail gently into the skin of a bean to make a small hole. Then, lightly squeeze until the bean slides out. You can discard the skins as they are not edible. Transfer skinned beans to the food processor.
- In a small saute pan, heat ½ teaspoon of olive oil. Add leeks and a pinch of salt and saute for about five minutes or until soft and translucent. (I cook mine a little longer because I prefer the flavor when slightly browned). Add to the food processor.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt, lemon juice and water to the food processor and blend until smooth. Add freshly ground pepper and give it a final pulse or two. Transfer to a bowl and let sit about an hour before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.