Have you ever tried fresh fava beans? They seem kind of high maintenance maybe, or perhaps you just didn’t know what to do with them? Now is your chance.
A little more work than opening a can of beans, but arguably less work than soaking and cooking dried beans. Also, when do you get the chance to eat fresh legumes? Almost never! ‘Tis the season, go get some at the farmers market. Do it today, you will be so happy about it later.
My first encounter with fresh favas (aka broad beans) was working for this incredible French Chef many years ago. I was pretty new to the restaurant world and so one of my jobs was to do all of the jobs that no one else wanted to do. This included, trimming beans and fiddleheads, cleaning mushrooms, peeling shallots and garlic, de-bearding mussels, and when they were in season, shucking, blanching and then peeling fava beans.
Yes, it is a three-part process, but they are so very worth it, ask just about anyone who comes from a warm, Mediterranean-style country where food is important. I have seen fresh favas in many cuisines, including Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian and French (not unlike lentils, chick peas etc), and if I see them on a menu, I definitely order them. Not unlike ordering fresh artichoke dishes in a restaurant; someone else has done the work and you get to do the enjoying, I’m totally into that.
Once blanched and peeled, these beans have a firm but buttery texture and a vibrantly green colour (and flavour!). As a legume, they contain protein of course, and also iron, calcium and fiber. They are also good for blood circulation and water metabolism (therefore, good for edema and difficult urination).
Warning: the raw version can cause an allergic reaction in some people (my husband once helped me shell them, then rubbed his eyes, which puffed up and disappeared –a surprisingly effective way of getting out of helping).
This dip is a nice mixture of raw and cooked ingredients, giving it a good variety of flavours and textures. The raw walnuts add a nice, fatty, creaminess. This is also a great way to consume easily digested, activated (soaked) walnuts, whose texture leaves something to be desired on their own. Walnuts are one of the few plants that contain omega 3 fatty acids, so embrace all of that anti-inflammatory goodness!
Olives add more healthy fat, some rich body and a bit of briny-ness. They are salty, so watch the amount of salt you add to the dip overall, you might not need to add any at all. I used the big fat green olives (cerignola) but use whatever olives you can find, as long as they have a pit (this means that they will have better flavour and less briny-ness, due to the fact that they will be less exposed to the brine). It will also prevent you from using pitted, dyed black, canned ones (the ones that tricked you into thinking you didn’t like olives until you were old enough to realize there is a difference). Just leave them out if those are your only option.
This, like all good dips/ spreads, is great just off of a spoon. When you tire of that, spread it on your collard green wrap, serve a dollop of it under a salad (like here), serve warm with some other goodies like here, toss with zucchini noodles and roast tomatoes, or serve on a veggie platter like I have done here (with raw beets sliced thinly on a mandoline).
Fava bean season is Spring and Summer so get out there before the pumpkins start popping up and you have to wait another year!
- 2 c Fresh Fava Beans, shelled (about 24 pods)
- 1 c Leek, diced
- 5 Garlic Cloves, chopped
- 6 Cerignola Olives (the big green ones) (or ¼ c any pit-in olive), pitted
- ½ c Walnuts, soaked for 8-12 hours, drained and rinsed well
- ¼ c Parsley, chopped
- 3 Green Onions, sliced
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp Lemon zest
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rapid boil
- Shell the fava beans from their giant pods
- Pour the shelled fava beans into the pot of boiling water and let boil for about a minute
- Strain and submerge into cold water (preferably ice water, but if not, just change the cold water until the favas have cooled)
- Now, with a small pairing or turning knife (the small hooked ones), poke a hole at one side of the beans and sqeeze them out of their skin. Discard the skin.
- In a sauté pan on medium heat, sauté the leeks and FOUR cloves of garlic in the coconut oil and a splash of water until softened.
- Put the cooked, peeled favas, cooked leeks and garlic, the one clove of raw garlic, soaked walnuts, pitted olives, lemon juice and zest, one Tbsp of olive oil and water into the food processor.
- Blend until it comes together but still has some texture.
- The salt level should be good because of the olives, but taste it at this point to be sure, adjusting if necessary.
- Add the green onions and parsley and blend just to combine.
- Transfer to a bowl and drizzle another Tbsp of olive oil on top.
- Serve with your favourite veggies -I used raw, thinly slice beets but carrots, peppers, cauliflower, Belgian endive leaves, asparagus spears -pretty much any veg will work really well.
- This also works well as a spooned onto your plate, underneath your salad, spread into a collard wrap, or really, anywhere that you might use hummus.