Monday, July 15, 2013

Fava beans and a nice chianti

Our CSA provided us with 4 pounds of fava beans, which felt like an overwhelming amount for newbie fava bean-eaters. Once we shelled them and peeled their skins off, we ended up with about 3 cups of beans, which was a bit underwhelming considering the work we put into them.

See? The relatively empty bowl on the right has the edible bits.

First, we had to pull the beans out of their pods, which took about 20 minutes with both of us doing it.

Then I blanched the beans in boiling water for what was supposed to be 4 minutes, but ended up being more like 7 because they were so gigantic. At that point the skin on each bean was all puckered up, like this...

We had to pull the skin off each bean, which was time consuming at first, until Josh discovered a great technique: squeeze the bean at one end, pinch off a tiny bit of the skin at the other end, and the bean will pop right out into the bowl.

We spent about 10 minutes doing this, so altogether it took an hour of our combined time for 3 cups of fava beans. It was actually really fun to shell them, though, so we didn't mind spending time on it.

Then I made a delicious fava bean pasta recipe from our CSA's blog, which I'll include here with some slight modifications based on what happened during my trial run...

1 1/2 cups shelled, blanched fava beans
1/2 large onion, diced
1 cup diced carrot and/or fennel
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 slices bacon, diced (I didn't include this, and I should have)
1 1/3 cup tubetti, ditalini, or other small pasta (I used fresh orecchiette from the farmer's market)
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons basil or mint (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and/or fennel and a few pinches of salt and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often. You may need to reduce the heat a bit. Now add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, stirring well and then simmer for about 10 minutes uncovered. (I used fresh, not dried, pasta, so I let the veggie brother simmer for 7 minutes before adding the pasta for the last 3 minutes.) Add the fava beans, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. (The original recipe said 3-4 minutes, but it took about 15 for me.) Add the cream and a generous amount of black pepper. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes until it thickens slightly. Stir in the parmesan and the herbs, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a glass of chianti and watch Silence of the Lambs if you think you can handle it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Veggie overload

These two grocery bags are full of veggies that we have to eat in the next week. Normally we aren't quite so ambitious in our produce consumption, but we skipped last week's CSA delivery and got a double share this week, so we are rolling in:

3 pounds of beets
2 pounds of carrots
4 pounds of fava beans
2 fennel bulbs
2 garlic bulbs
2 heads of kale
2 heads of lettuce
2 pounds of squash

We get our CSA veggies from Sauvie Island Organics. It's our first time using a CSA, and we're loving it. We paid a lot up front ($500), but for 28 weeks we'll get a bag of fresh organic veggies every week. Since it works out to $18 a week, it's actually turned out to be a bargain, and now I don't have to deal with buying all these veggies at the farmer's market.

Any recipe suggestions? Fava beans are entirely new to me, and I've only eaten fennel a few times, so I don't know what to do with them.