How to Shell Fava Beans

Fava Beans

Fava beans are a great spring treat if you’re willing to put in the hard work to enjoy them. There are three parts to a Fava bean: the pod (fondly called the sleeping bag by some chefs), the husk, and the bean. You need to remove the beans from the pods and the husks in order to enjoy these sweet, meaty beans. So, here’s what you need: a pot of boiling water, a bowl of ice water, and your very own nimble fingers.

First, you’ll want to unzip the sleeping bags. In other words, pull the string from the blossom end to the tip of the pod just like you would with a string bean or snap pea. Next, open up the pod and remove all the beans inside.

Once you’ve removed the beans from the pod, you’ll need to blanch them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. When the time is up, pour the beans into a colander then promptly place them in the ice water to stop them from cooking.

After the beans have cooled, use your fingernail to gently break open the husk, give a gentle squeeze, and out will pop the bean! Voila!

Once you’ve shelled all your Fava beans, sauté them with some butter and salt. You can serve them as a side veg or gently mash them and smear them on toast with a squeeze of lemon! Enjoy!

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Asparagus & Shiitake Stir Fry

Asparagus stir fry

Here’s a quick and easy weeknight treat to use while we’re getting all this wonderful asparagus! The trick to cooking asparagus is to use high heat and only a few minutes- you want to maintain its wonderful snap! The easiest ways prepare asparagus is to hold each stalk by the root end and the center and bend until it breaks naturally. Once you have removed all the fibrous bases, you’re ready to cut the asparagus to whatever shape you need. I’m also a big fan of raw asparagus, so if you’re feeling adventurous, consider slicing it very thinly and adding it to salads!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, root ends trimmed as above and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and large mushrooms sliced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 tablespoon canola oil or sesame oil
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Soy sauce or Tamari (gluten free soy sauce), to taste

Method:

1. In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil until you see faint wisps of smoke. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook until they all appear more vibrant, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the asparagus and yellow onion to the pan. Cook another 3 minutes, stirring ingredients.
3. Add mirin to the pan and toss the vegetables until the mirin has evaporated.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and place vegetables in a serving bowl. Top with green onions, sesame seeds, and a drizzle of soy sauce. This is delicious served over rice.

Beet “Tartare”

Beet tartare

Spring is in full swing here and the lengthening days have me thinking about garden parties and evenings spent outside with friends. This recipe is slightly more composed than some of the others I’ve posted here, but it would make a simple yet impressive appetizer for a party of 4 or a light supper for 2. If you have access to any edible flowers like chive blossoms, they would make a lovely garnish! The small diced beets in this dish along with the sieved egg and shallots mimic a traditional beef tartare, but are a great vegetarian alternative- in fact, I prefer this version to the classic.

Ingredients:
2 medium beets
1 egg, hard boiled
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 small handful of chives, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of cheese- crumbled blue cheese, goat cheese, or shaved Parmesan
2 cups salad greens
3 radishes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1. Place the beets in a pot and cover with water by 1 1/2 inches. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until beets are easily pierced with a fork. When they are finished, remove them from the water and allow them to cool. When they are cool, use a paper towel to rub off the skin. Next, cut them into slices and cut the slices into small cubes. Set aside.
2. Cut the egg in half lengthwise and press through a mesh strainer or sieve. If you don’t have either of these finely chop the egg and set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. Set half of the dressing aside.
4. Place the chopped beets and shallots into the bowl with half the dressing and toss, coating everything lightly.
5. Place the beet mixture in a pile in the center of each plate. Top the beets with sieved egg and sliced chives. Then in the mixing bowl, add the remaining dressing along with the greens and the radishes and toss to coat. Gently pile the salad along the side of the beets. Scatter the cheese over the salad greens and beets. Enjoy with some rye crackers or crusty bread and glass of wine!

Beet close up

Miso Pickled Hakurei Turnips

Pickled turnips

Hakurei Turnips are mild, sweeter turnips that usually lack the bitterness of other varieties. They are quite tasty, lightly sautéed, roasted, or pickled. Reserve the greens to sauté with eggs or other braising greens.

Ingredients:

1 bunch hakurei turnips, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red miso paste
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
½ inch ginger knob, peeled and grated
2-3 scallions or green onion, thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Combine vinegar, miso, sugar, and pepper. Stir until miso and sugar dissolve.
  2. Place turnips, ginger, and scallions in a pint sized mason jar.
  3. Pour vinegar mixture over turnips. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover them, add enough water to cover.
  4. Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour before eating. These should last for about one week.