Wednesday, July 2, 2008

fava-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Deck the halls with boughs of holly!
Fava-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!
Tis the summer to be jolly!
Fava-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!

The odd-ball vegetable of the week is...yes, the humble fava bean. My mom has become aware of my love for strange veggies, so she so kindly picked up some fava beans for me to play with when she was grocery shopping. To me, they look like lupini beans, a favorite snack among my Italian family. Who knows...maybe the lupini and fava bean are cousins? One thing we do know about the fava bean, however, is that it pairs extremely well with some liver and a nice Chianti. Just kidding, just kidding. :)

One thing I realized while cooking up my fava beans is that a "shell" of beans does not go a long way. I had about six shells, and I barely got a cup of beans out of them. As for some funner fava facts, some people are actually allergic to these puppies! No worries, though. Favism, as it's called, is extremely rare, and it only can affect those of African, Mediterranean, or Southeast Asian descent. Additionally, fava beans might help treat Parkinson's disease, and they may even be a natural alternative to Viagra. Who would think?!

So the recipe that I decided to tackle tonight happened to come from Martha Stewart. I respect this woman, I really do. Despite the minor fact that she is an ex-convict, she's a strong woman, in my eyes. Let's just leave it at that...and you'll thank me for not diving into my Martha-Stewart-was-sent-to-jail-because-she's-a-powerful-woman rampage. :)

In addition to fava beans and the yummy walnut vinaigrette that drenched them, this recipe called for corn, cucumber, parsley, and feta cheese...
all delicious ingredients. And in the words of my Great-Grandma Pasqualina, "If there's all good things in it, how could it be bad?" Basically, that is my mantra when I am unsure as to how a new recipe will turn out. Wise woman, that Pasqualina. And is that not the sweetest name ever?!

So everything went very smoothly during this cooking adventure. The cucumber was finely chopped and quartered as Martha requested, the parsley was freshly picked from my mom's herb garden, and the corn...the corn was newly extracted a la can opener from its can. I had successfully boiled my favas and blanched them in their ice-water bath. But then, after the salad had been mixed and dressed, I discovered...

RED FAVA WATER! Yes, my friends, the water that I had boiled the favas in had turned red. Why why why? My Google-ing attempts have failed me, and I am unable to answer this burning question. Simply put, I was slightly creeped out by this red water.

Nevertheless, the favas were successfully hulled from their shell after being extracted from their red water bath. And isn't that a great color of green?


Feta Fava Salad
Adapted from Fava Bean Salad with Roasted-Garlic Vinaigrette...marthastewart.com

For vinaigrette:
1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

For salad:
1 1/2 cups shucked fava beans
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Prepare vinaigrette: whisk together garlic, oil, vinegar, salt, and walnuts. Set aside.

Prepare salad: cook beans in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beans to ice-water bath. Let cool completely, and remove with slotted spoon. Peel thin shells off beans.

Toss beans, corn, cucumber, parsley, and feta with the vinaigrette.

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