Fava beans are something I never would have bought in a million years if it weren’t for the delicious fava bean spread at Tia Pol. It’s served with slices of baguette smeared with tomato puree along side a couple of other tasty spreads, and it (and the sangria) are worth going all the way over to Tenth Avenue for.
To be perfectly honest fava beans in their pods kind of creep me out. The pods are freakishly large and are often covered in black spots and are sort of . . . squidgy. But last summer I noticed them for the first time at the farmers market and with that delicious puree in mind I bought a big bagful. Now I’m a convert. Fava beans are a lot of work but they’re totally worth it. For starters they have to be shelled, but that’s the easy part. Then they have to be blanched and the thick, waxy skin has to be peeled off of each bean. You’ll be left with an insanely large pile of inedible scraps and a tiny pile of beans. But that tiny pile of beans is so delicious. And all of the peeling is kind of fun.
- 1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans (from about 1 1/2 pounds of pods)
- 1 large clove of garlic
- about a half cup olive oil
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 baguette
- a couple leaves fresh mint, cut into slivers (optional)
Bring a small pot of water to a boil while you shell the beans. Drop the shelled beans into the boiling water for just about 45 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice cold water. Once the beans have cooled off, peel them. Use your fingernail to pierce the skin. Then the beans will just pop right out.
Once all of the beans are peeled put them in a sauce pan with just a little bit of water (maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup), a couple splashes of olive oil and a pinch or two of salt. Peel the garlic and use the side of the blade of a knife to lightly crush it. Throw the garlic in the pot with the beans. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until beans are soft. Meanwhile, cut the baguette into thin slices. Brush the slices lightly with olive oil and toast until lightly browned.
When the beans are soft, remove from heat and drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer beans to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little of the cooking liquid, a tablespoon or so at a time, until it’s a nice consistency. Stir in the lemon juice and a little salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and pour another tablespoon or two of olive oil on top. Garnish with slivered mint leaves. Serve with toasted baguette slices.