Sunday, May 6, 2007

An experiment in fava beans

I'd never had a fava bean before. Sure, I'd heard of them (I am a foodie after all), but I'd never eaten them. However, last week at the Farmer's Market I saw a pile of pretty greenish brown beans with a "fava" sign and couldn't resist.

I shelled one, and popped a raw bean in my mouth. It tasted grassy and clean, with a nutty undertone. I wasn't sure how to prepare them -- I didn't even know if they were meant to be eaten raw.

A pile of shelled favas

After I went home, I did some Googling and discovered that they are usually cooked, and often served with other spring veggies. They are also eaten mashed, with spices. I was tempted by many of the recipes, particularly one in which the fava beans with tossed with peas and mint, but I eventually settled on a risotto.

In all honesty, I ended up a bit disappointed. The fava beans didn't taste like much. They had a pretty color, and a nice texture, but the flavor was bland. Maybe their delicate taste was overwhelmed by the chicken, or the artichokes. Or maybe they are better with another preparation. Or maybe fava beans are just boring. Beats me. I did enjoy the risotto, which is why I'm giving you all the recipe, but the fava beans themself weren't particularly exciting.

Fava bean shells on the left, the shelled beans on the right.

Unshelled, shelled. Up close.

Fava Bean and Chicken Risotto, with Artichokes -- serves 6


--1 large onion, roughly chopped
--3 tablespoons olive oil
--1 1/4 cup risotto rice (arborio)
--salt and pepper, to taste
--5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
--1 cup good white wine

--2 cups shelled, blanched fava beans*
--1 cup quartered, cooked artichoke hearts
--1 cup shredded, cooked chicken


1) Saute the onion in the olive oil until the onions are softened.

2) Stir in the rice, and saute with the onions until the grains of rice get a little translucent and have a white dot in the middle of each one.

3) Add salt and pepper, stir

4) Add a cup of chicken broth and cook, stirring occasionally over medium/low heat until the liquid is absorbed.

5) Repeat step 4 with the rest of the cups of chicken broth and the wine (should take about 25 minutes). As you add the liquid, remember not to add the next cup of liquid until the previous cup is absorbed. And, of course, be careful not to let the rice get so dry that it scorches.

6) Just before the final bit of liquid is absorbed and the rice is creamy, add the fava beans, artichokes, and shredded chicken. Cook for a few minutes and then turn off the heat. Taste, and adjust seasonings.

To serve:

This is a main dish risotto, just serve with a leafy green salad and a glass of crisp white wine.


Be sure to add enough salt -- I noticed that the risotto was a bit bland at first and salt really perked it up. A squeeze of lemon over top is not a bad call either.

* The fava beans are infinitely easier to shell if they have been blanched in boiling water first. I tried to shell them without blanching them, and it was quite difficult and time consuming. But, after a 1 minute dunk in boiling water and a quick drain, the fava beans are a breeze to shell.


Anonymous said... will excuse my poor english because im from we call fava beans "habas"
and they are very tasty.....but whith lemon and oil....and almost all the flavor is in the can mash the sells..and mix them with some vinegar and they will taste better...

i dont know but i bet that with chiken and rissotto they probably taste awful......

its better make a salad whith some letuce...carriots and litle cubes of avocado....and of course the fava beans
you mix all this and you spread a little of cesar salad mix....and voila you have a fava beans salad

or you can also prepare them alone with lemon and oil and some onion thats another salad...

you can also make them as a just put them in the licuator....and you add a little of oil...

but in general they are very tasty!!

thats all


KleoPatra said...

i am going to give this a try, tho w/out any chicken. i like fava beans!

Kristel said...

Mujer Arana -- thanks for the ideas. :) Can you really eat the shells?... they seem really tough to me.

Kleopatra -- I bet a fava bean and artichoke risotto would be wonderful. As I said, the chicken seemed overpowering. I'd love to hear how a vegan version of this turned out!