I finally got around to making something out of my most recently acquired Italian cookbook. Not farro, though (I need to restock my supply), but fava beans. An embarrassingly long time ago we picked up a bag of dried favas but had so far failed to use them in anything – I kept looking for good recipes but everything seemed to call for fresh beans, not dried. This recipe, though, is specifically for dried beans: a simple puree of cooked favas, blended with garlic and olive oil, and topped with sauteed greens. Apparently it’s a very traditional dish, and according to the book, Marcella Hazan has said this is what she would want for her last meal. Maybe it’s better when she makes it.
So, yes, I wouldn’t call this my greatest triumph in the kitchen, but it wasn’t terrible either. Besides, it used up those stupid dried fava beans that were cluttering up the pantry. What it really reminded me of, most of all, was yellow split pea soup. There are worse things than split pea soup, but it’s not my personal favorite comfort food. To each their own, I guess.
The other thing that didn’t thrill me about this was having to peel the favas. I guess I should’ve seen this coming, but when we bought the beans there was no peeled/unpeeled option. So I had to soak the beans overnight, then spend half an hour laboriously peeling each one. Ugh.
After that it was easy: boil the beans, add garlic, simmer until done, puree. I served the beans in soup bowls with a pile of sauteed Swiss chard and a piece of butter-roasted cod on top. The flavors worked well together – the chard and the cod were both robust enough to stand up to the strong beany mush – but it wasn’t the kind of dinner that kept us riveted to the dinner table.
There was plenty of leftover fava puree, which I froze – I think I’ll turn it into soup the next time we have some good ham. If it wants to taste like split pea soup, then I’ll treat it that way. Only fair, right?
Fava Bean Puree with Swiss Chard
from Italian Slow and Savory by Joyce Goldstein
for the favas:
1 1/2 pounds dried unpeeled fava beans
2 quarts water
4 cloves garlic, peeled
for the greens:
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
Soak the beans overnight. Peel, then combine with the water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, add the garlic, reduce the heat and simmer 1-2 hours, until the beans are soft and beginning to dissolve. Mash the beans (we used an immersion blender) and mix in salt and olive oil to taste.
Just before you finish the beans, heat a skillet with a few spoonfuls of olive oil. Toss in the chard and cook until thoroughly wilted (if cooking the stems as well, add them first). Salt to taste. Serve on top of the bean puree. Top with fish or chicken, or just some grated cheese.