Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

Hannibal Lechter aside, did you know that fava beans were eaten in ancient Rome and Greece and even Gladiators ate them with barley to give them strength for battle? These tender, creamy members of the pea family are also known as broad beans, pigeon beans, horse beans and Windsor beans and make their appearance in early spring.

Great steamed and served with olive oil, salt and lemon, they are also delish in purees, soup, added to pasta or just sprinkled with sea salt. Favas are high in fiber and iron, have no cholesterol, low in sodium and fat and high in protein. It’s also been said that these little guys are libido boosters. So, there’s that.

Be sure to shell your favas before eating and don’t eat them raw, some people of Mediterranean descent have an allergic reactions to raw or unpeeled favas called favism. Shelling favas are labor intensive so make your husband do it, I mean, allow plenty of time.

Here’s an easy recipe for fava bean dip

Fava Bean Dip with Goat Cheese and Garlic Recipe (from Simply Recipes)

INGREDIENTS

2-3 pounds fresh fava (broad) beans, shelled (about 2 cups)

1 Tbsp salt

1/2 cup chopped green garlic (can substitute 4 cloves chopped garlic)

Olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup or more water

5 ounces goat cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

METHOD

1 Remove the outer shell from the fava beans. The easiest way to do this is to work over a large bowl, bend the fava bean pod near one of the beans, squeeze the bean with your fingers, to have it shoot out into the bowl when the bean snaps. Keep squeezing, pinching and snapping, until you’ve de-beaned all the pods.

2 Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the shelled beans, simmer for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove beans from the hot water and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and to shock the beans into maintaining their bright green color. When the beans have sunk to the bottom of the bowl of ice water, fish them out and remove and discard the outer peel.

3 In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium. Add the chopped green garlic (or chopped regular garlic cloves) and cook until softened, but not browned, about 3 or 4 minutes.

4 Place shelled and peeled beans in a food processor with softened green garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water. Pulse until smooth. Stream in a tablespoon or two more of olive oil while puréeing.

5 Scrape mixture out of food processor into a bowl. Mix in the goat cheese until well combined. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serve with sliced cucumbers or jicama.

Makes about 2 cups.

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