I never worked at Chez Panisse, but I have quite a few friends who have. All those with kitchen internships describe their time at Chez Panisse as a time shucking favas.
Preparing favas, first shucking, then peeling the skins, is time-consuming - though, if you have company, doing this task becomes social and festive. Plus, I do love the tactile experience of freeing the slippery bright green beans first from their beautifully fleecy pods and then from their rubbery shells.
Our neighbors, Rich and Caitlin, gave us these beauties grown in their garden next door. We combined this local loot with our haul from Riverdog Farm and a fava party we did have! Tossing this ragu over pasta with some shaved Piave and lots of fresh ground pepper made a rich and luscious dinner on its own. My friend Phyllis at Dash and Bella introduced me to Piave, which tastes like a sweet young Parmesan. Phyllis shaves Piave into a delectable Fennel and Asparagus Salad. If you can get your hands on some of this cheese, it is a great match with the favas, otherwise Parmesan, Pecorino, or even a fresh ricotta are good substitutes.
adapted from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables
- 3-4 pounds Fresh Fava Beans in their pods
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- olive oil (about a 1/2 cup)
- 1 lemon
- Optional: pasta
- Optional: Piave, Pecorino, or Parmesan
To prep the favas, set and pot of water on the stove to boil while you (and a friend or two) remove the pale green beans from their pods. Then parboil the beans in simmering water for 1 minute. Remove beans and set aside to cool. When the beans have reached a manageable temperature, peel off the rubbery pale green skins and you will have bright green favas inside. (Using your fingers, pinch an opening at one end of the skin and then squeeze the favas out.) Before you know it you will find your own rhythm in this process.
Place the naked favas in a saute pan with an equal mixture of water and olive oil so the beans are just covered. Add the rosemary and garlic, then season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, continue stewing for about 5 minutes or until the favas should be tender. Squeeze a half lemon into the ragu and salt again to taste.
We served the favas over fettuccine with shaved Piave and tons of fresh ground pepper.
Note: If you have leftover Fava Bean Ragu, serve it as part of an antipasto platter with Burrata, and prosciutto.