Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Wonderful Fava Bean

Tonight's meal has inspired me. There are so many foods that most of us have never known. Greens and roots and beans and lettuces and crazy things that make one excited to be alive again, with an incredible sense of discovery and wonder. And yet, the joy is deepened that much more if we can see these plants come up out of the ground, and know something about how they are cared for, and the history of the species, and how it has been used by people in ancient, sometimes distant lands. When the taste lingers with a knowledge of these things, ah, the delicious sweetness of deep roots.

So I'll show a quick peek of tonight's delicious feast and then come back to this and add how these things are grown, where the varieties come from, how long in the field, are they easy or difficult to grow, harvest, wash, transport? How long do they last? How long is their season? What foods do they complement?

This is the very first meal of my life with the fava bean. Celia Barss at Woodland Gardens encouraged me to take some last week after working on harvest day. I was able to pick them with the crew. After a few minutes of picking I found that they come lose from the plant easiest when grabbed and lifted straight up. There may be some risk of damaging the stalk of the plant however.

Like asparagus they are an early spring delicacy. I found in Alice Water's cookbook on Vegetables a recipe for Chilled Fava Bean Soup that sounded tasty. To get to the bean can take some time. First you split the pod and pop out the light green pod. Then you parboil for one minute. Douse in cold water then use your thumb nail to split the pod and squeeze the bean out of this second pod. The inner bean is beautiful dark green. Rinse again and add to a pan with well sauteed onions and garlic (I used some fresh spring garlic) in olive oil. Cover with chicken stock until beans are tender. Add to a blender then add additional chicken stock until the desired consistency. Drizzle with fresh rosemary infused olive oil.

The second dish was a Gratin of Broccoli with Sauce Mornay. Simmer on low 1.25 cups milk with a quarter onion, nutmeg and bayleaf (I substituted rosemary). Separately make a roux with butter and flour. Add the milk and stir on low until creamy. Add a fine grated cheese. I used cheddar and parmesan. Boil broccoli, drain, mix into the sauce. Line a gratin dish (darn I should have used mine, would have made the picture look better) with butter, added toasted bread crumbs to the bottom, add gratin, put untoasted breadcrumbs and butter on top and bake at 425 for 20 mintues.

And Hoila! Radiohead's In Rainbows made for excellent cooking music. Then Bob Dylan's documentary, No Direction Home made for good Friday night entertainment while I ate.

Tomorrow after I take my car in for a new timing belt, water pump and fan clutch I'll be swinging over to the Morningside Market, Georgia's only year round organic farmer's market. I'll get some good pics of the spring harvest bounty and tell a little bit about what I know of these good friends.


1 comment:

Anna Ruth said...

Yum that looks good. Please fix it for me and ship it to ZA. Defeat your whole purpose, please.

It's fun being in another country where the local foods are quite different from what I'm used to. Of course we have the old familiars like squash, spinach, apples, beets, chard, eggplant.... Buut, buuuut, B.U.T. we also have grenadillas, lychee fruit, mangoes, bananas, lots and lots of different kinds of avocados, papayas, and many different grapes. My favorite recent creation was an avo, papaya (with the seeds), mango and coriander salad with yogurt.