Fava Bean Puree

Fresh fava beans have an extraordinary flavor like no other bean. The early beans of spring are small and tender, and a delicacy in soups, salads, and pastas. Larger, more mature and starchy favas are better suited to longer cooking and make a brilliant green puree to spread on croutons. Fava beans require a little extra effort to shell and peel before cooking, but they are well worth it. First they must be stripped from the large green spongy pods, and then each bean needs to be peeled to remove the skin. Courtesy of Alice Waters from “In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart”

  • 2-3 lbs fava beans in the pod
  • about 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C water
  • salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
  • 1 – 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • fresh ground black pepper

Shell the beans, and heat a pot of water to boiling. Blanch the beans briefly (for 30 seconds or so) to loosen the skins; drain and cool in ice water, to preserve their bright green color. Peel the beans; use your thumbnail to tear the skin at one end, then squeeze to pop out the bean.

Heat about 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the beans, the water, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook the beans gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until very soft. Add more water if needed to keep them moist and loose.

Mash the beans to a paste with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Make a well in the center of the pan and pour in another few tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary to the oil and cook gently; when the garlic tarts to sizzle and releases its fragrance, stir the mixture into the beans. Season with a few grinds of pepper. Taste and add more salt, olive oil, or water as needed.