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Filtering by Tag: fava beans

Bruschetta with Fresh Fava Beans

Rosetta

My garden is a little behind from last May. The weather has been unusual for California this year, with lots of rain and cold. We have planted all the tomatoes, eggplant and romano beans, but have not planted our peppers yet. Fresh peas are still on the vines because they were late coming out this year.

And of course we have been picking lots of fava beans on a daily basis.

Eating fava beans every day prompted me to write about them. We plant the variety of beans that we brought over from Calabria. The bean pods are very long compared to the ones that you find here at the farmers' market. Typically fava bean pods are about six inches long with 5 or 6 beans inside, but our variety is 10 to 12 inches long with 8 to 10 beans inside the pod. Each plant produces lots of pods.

Here are the beans inside the pod.

The beans themselves have an outer skin that most people here in the United States always remove, making for lots more work. Calabrians usually leave them on when making pasta or minestra with fava beans  but I do remove them for certain dishes. The recipe for a fava bean "spread" that I will show you is one of these. You can put it on top of bruschetta or serve it with grilled fish, toss it with pasta, or fold it into a risotto. It is so easy to make that you can just follow the photos below to make it at home.

To make enough for six people you will need about four pounds of fava bean pods. Shuck the beans from the pods,  blanch the beans in boiling water for about a minute, put them in cold water to stop cooking, drain them and then remove the outer skin.  Place them in a skillet with a good amount of olive oil, three cloves of  minced garlic and a sprig of fresh thyme.  Cook until soft for about  20 minutes, adding a little water if dry. Remove the thyme sprig and mash with a potato masher. Add some lemon juice to taste.  If the puree is still dry add some good extra virgin olive oil at the end.

While it is still warm spread it on top of bruschetta and top it with some shavings of ricotta salata or pecorino.

The next time you go to the farmers' market grab the fava beans because their season is short. Look for bright fresh pods. If they are wrinkly or brown don't buy them. And remember to buy lots of pods. Five pounds of pods give you only about 2 pounds of shelled beans.

P.S.  Here is a formal portrait of my chickens. They have finally lost their fear of open spaces and have become proper country chicks. This photo was as hard to take as one of kindergarten children (they just wont stand still). I managed to corral all four of them in one corner of the yard.  They love being outside and eating greens. Can't wait for that first egg!

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Bruschetta con Fave Fresche (Bruschetta topped with fresh fava bean spread)

Ingredients

4 pounds fava beans
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
One small sprig rosemary
One small sprig thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of one lemon
Six slices of grilled country-style bread

1. Shell the fava beans and discard the pods.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the shelled fava beans. Cook the beans for about one minute. Drain and place in a bowl of ice-cold water, to cool. Drain them again. Using your thumbnail, break the outer green skin and squeeze the pod between your thumb and forefinger - the bright green bean inside will pop right out. Discard the tough, outer skin.

3. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a medium size skillet. Add the fava beans, garlic, rosemary and thyme sprigs, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup of water.

4. Cook over low heat until the fava beans are soft and absorb the flavors of the garlic and herbs, about 20 minutes. Add more water if the beans are drying out. Remove from the heat. Remove the herb sprigs and mash the mixture to a coarse puree or use a food processor and briefly process the mixture, if you prefer a smooth paste. Taste for salt and pepper. Add more olive oil and the lemon juice to taste. If the mixture seems dry, add more olive oil.

5. Spread the bean mixture on the grilled bruschetta. You can finish the bruschetta with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and topped with some shaved, fresh pecorino cheese or ricotta salata if you like.

Copyright 2005, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.

A peek at my garden in January

Rosetta

I have been busy reading my upcoming book’s first layout. I can't believe it's almost done! I always feel that not a whole lot happens in my garden in the winter months, as things grow fairly slowly compared to summer, but if you look back to the November post you will see that indeed a lot has happened. The peas are on their way up; in the photo below you can see the peach tree prunings that my father uses as their stakes. The netting is to keep the birds away.

The fennel is doing quite well:

The fava beans are starting to produce flowers, which will soon turn into pods:

Right after I took the picture below of my broccoli rape I picked a bunch of them. One of my favorite ways to cook it is to sauté it with olive oil, garlic and peperoncino.

Here is a picture of the cavolo broccoli; you can see the broccoli starting to come out.

The escarole is thriving in this cool weather.  I will pick these later in the week for my soup class.  One of the minestra (hearty soup/stew) we are making in the class is scarole e fagioli!

The citrus trees are loaded with fruit.  I have oranges, Satsuma mandarins and more Meyer lemons that I can use.  Take a look at the pictures below!  If you are wondering where I was hiding my citrus trees: they fill in the space between my house and my neighbor’s.

Satsuma mandarins:

My Meyer lemon tree:

A close-up of the gorgeous Meyer lemons:

I have some work coming up soon, making candied orange peel and limoncello.

A "wild" day at the farmers' market in Vibo Valentia

Rosetta

I happened to be in Pizzo on Sunday and asked Signora Callipo of Casa Janca where to go for a typical farmers' market to take photos for my book. She suggested the market in Vibo Valentia on Monday, where all the stands are run by little old ladies who bring their bounty to be sold. They bring whatever they themselves grow or forage in the wild. They sell things that we don't often see in America. This picture below shows some of the wild vegetables like wild asparagus, wild chicory, and wild fennel:

Here's a bucket of wild asparagus, which are pencil-thin, tender and wonderful to eat in a frittata:

The little old ladies love to forage for wild chicory. I enjoyed the chicory cooked with potatoes by Signora Callipo:

They even sell freshly harvested camomilla (chamomile) that can be dried for tea. Every Calabrian mamma will give you this tea when you have a tummy ache:

There were fava beans and Tropea red onions everywhere, because they are right at the peak of the season:

The super-sweet Tropea red onions...

...and the gorgeous artichokes:

The seasonal fruit that I saw were strawberries (fragole) and loquats (nespole):

Here are lupini, a soft bean that Calabrians often eat as a snack. My friend Fanny says they are very popular in the ethnic neighborhood feste in Chicago.

And a bucket of cured black olives for antipasti or snack:

They also sell cured salumi and pecorino cheese in the market, all of which are homemade. In the photo below, there are (left to right) capocollisoppressate and salsiccie calabrese.

Look at the crust on these loaves of bread. I had to buy some of this bread because it looked so good:

Right within the market there are several butcher shops. I'll spare you the more grisly photos I have, with the offal and whole dressed animals. This is as good as it gets: