Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The best fava bean recipe

Like all great recipes, this one starts at the farmers' market. Go there for fava beans, scoop a generous amount of the pods into a bag.

And it's a Saturday spring morning, so pick up some incidentals: pencil-thin asparagus, a still-warm loaf of bread, Meyer lemons, strawberries you can smell an aisle away, a rubarb kuchen and a cup of coffee. Take the dog to the park; devour your kuchen; sip your coffee; admire the wildflowers; let the dog swim in the lake and shake all over you until you all smell like pond.

Favas are not the kind of thing to tackle alone in the kitchen. You will find yourself hunched over the counter, festering in a stew of resentment as you painstakingly pick apart each infuriating bean as everyone else enjoys a sunny late afternoon.

Instead, get someone you like to chat with to make a couple Southsides. Having an former bartender as a husband helps. We use a modified version of Pete Wells' recipe from an old Food & Wine magazine:


Fill a shaker with ice. Add 6 oz. gin, juice of half a large or one small lemon (Meyer preferred), a spoon or two superfine sugar and two fresh mint sprig. Shake the hell out of it. Strain into two chilled martini glass and garnish with a mint sprig.

The straining is suggested most people don't want to end up with mint in the crevices between their teeth--I personally like my cocktail all rustic and green with bits of mint. But that's me...

Then, on to the favas.

Pile them on a table and get comfy. Split the pods open and strip out the beans. Then take the frosted sheath off each bean. This could be considered tedious and frustrating. Don't go there. Take a slow sip of your Southside and enjoy the chance to slow down.

You'll soon develop a system and the peeling will become a point of pride. Mine involves a thumbnail at the end of a bean and a little squeeze.

When the beans are peeled and the cocktails are sipped, toss a good amount of small-cubed pecorino cheese in with the favas and dress with olive oil and pepper.


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