Have you ever had fresh organic fava beans? Neither had I until now, and wow! what a treat. Martha Stewart had a recipe for Fava Bean Salad with Roasted-Garlic Vinaigrette which sounded heavenly so I decided to try it out. During the recipe, I tweaked it a bit. The biggest change I made from her recipe was not adding the red wine vinegar. And here's why.
First, I have never cooked fresh fava beans before, and I gotta warn you up front that cooking these puppies is a lot of work because you have to shuck the fava not once but twice before you get to the actual bean. I do think it is worth it though. To demonstrate what's involved, I took pictures to show you...
In this first picture, we have a fresh fava bean pod straight from the grocery store. The recipe calls for 3-1/2 cups of shucked fava beans to serve 4. In order to get that, you have to get 3 pounds of fava bean pods from the store, and open them all up. I only got 1-1/2 lbs to make a 2 person serving, and shucking all those pods took about 10 minutes.
After Shucking #1, you put the fava beans into boiling water and cook them for 3 minutes. And believe me, stick to the 3 minute mark because I went to 4 and the favas were a wee bit too soft. Not bad, but not optimal. I almost turned them into a dip instead of a salad.
After cooling the beans in an ice water bath, shucking part deux begins, and this is tougher than Shucking #1 because the bean is now soft so if you jab your finger nail in there too hard, you'll pierce and scrape the bean. It took me about 15 minutes to do shucking #2.
During shucking #2, we did have some bean casualties which was all good because I got to taste the beans. I was so taken with the fresh taste of the bean that I thought it would be a shame to cover that delicious green flavor with vinegar. This is what a couple weeks of eating vegan and raw will do to your taste buds. You want to eat more veggies bare & beautiful instead of drowning them in flavorings.
I love vinegar, but it can also an over bearing flavor, and quickly take over everything. After spending nearly 1/2 an hour doing all that shucking, I wanted the beans to be the star flavor, so I said bye-bye to the red wine vinegar. Also, adding the fresh parsley also gives you a great deal of flavor.
I still followed the vinaigrette recipe but I just nixed the vinegar. And because of that, the roasted garlic flavor popped more, thus the zing! I did add some extra salt just to get a bit more punch. And boy, how I love roasted garlic. It's one of my favorite things to spread on a good piece of pugliese bread.
Faster ways to make the salad
To fast track this recipe, I went to the salad bar at Whole Foods and fortunately they had corn, chopped red onion, cucumber and feta cheese, so I just put that all in a box and then dumped it into my salad when I got home. I did have to cut the cucumber into smaller pieces but that's not a biggie. I'm all for less chopping and cooking.
I would spend the time with the fresh beans because it is so much better than the canned stuff. But, if you're pressed for time, canned or frozen works too. Fava beans are only around a short time in the Spring so why not take advantage. Another way to speed up the process is to buy a bottle of roasted garlic vinaigrette if you do want the vinegar taste.
My two cents though is that this fava bean salad is best enjoyed with the least amount of flavorings. The fresh fava beans are like edamame in many ways. Who puts vinegar on edamame? ;)