Friday, March 31, 2006

En todas las casas cuecen habas

Here you have some "habas" or "fave" or "feves" or fava beans. This Spanish saying, "in every house, they cook fava beans" loosely translates to "everyone has a skeleton in their closet". The idea is that fava beans were considered food for the poor and despite one's pretension of wealth, one still went home and ate fava beans, not steak. Now, I certainly don't mind a good steak every once in a while but fava beans are pretty good too. They are, however so work-intensive to prepare that they might these days imply you have servants in the kitchen! What you see here are fava beans that have been divested of their pods, then boiled for 3-4 minutes and then squeezed out of their tough skins. For 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of whole fava beans with pods, I ended up with 3 cups of edible favas. Evidently there are fresher, younger fava beans that don't require that last step of squeezing since the outer skin is still tender. I haven't seen favas like that around here, though. Here is a lovely spring dish you can make for 4 people as a main dish.

Spaghettini with fresh favas, pancetta and sun-dried tomatoes

1 lb spaghettini
3 cups shelled, boiled, peeled favas
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small, yellow onion
1 clove garlic
4 ozs pancetta/bacon, diced
1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
shaved Parmesan to taste

Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan, add the onion and brown; this takes several minutes. Once the onion is light brown, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Remove to a plate. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In the same frying pan, now add the pancetta/bacon and fry over medium-low heat, about halfway through remove the accumulated bacon grease. Continue cooking until it is brown and thoroughly crispy. This will take several minutes. Remove to the plate. Once the water is boiling add the pasta and add the reserved onion, garlic and pancetta/bacon back to the frying pan along with the favas and the sun-dried tomatoes. Saute and warm the sauce while the pasta cooks. Once the pasta is just a bit harder than al dente, add 1/4 cup of the cooking water to the frying pan, drain the pasta and add it. In the pan, the pasta will cook to a perfect al dente and will absorb some of the flavors of the sauce. Once most of the water is absorbed, take the pan off the heat and serve immediately with Parmesan shavings on top.


Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Looks very interesting. I've only read about fresh fava beans; I've never seen them for sale here. Sigh.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Rowena said...

Fava beans already available at the market? Arghhh, I wanna go back home. I'm missing out on all the fantastic spring veggies!

7:17 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Kalyn, Hey thanks for visiting! I think the net variety of veggies in Italy is higher than that of the States. But, where you are, you can probably get a good taco al pastor with cilantro and white onion and tomatillo salsa. What I'd do for one of those! Oh, and then there are the morel mushrooms right about now! and the fiddlehead ferns! and and and...

Rowena, this was my last fava purchase for the year - too much work! But, I saw your archived "barba di frate" recipe (gorgeous!) and can't wait to make that. They're in the markets now.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Mmmmmmmm, looks delicious!

When I lived in the Middle East we would use dried fava beans (soaked overnight) to make a dish called "Foul Medames". Might just have to make that again soon!

9:45 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Lotus, Just reading your Anthropology stuff for the first time! Very interesting. I'll comment more there. But Foul! Is it the same stuff my friend Massoud in Minneapolis (via Damascus) would make for brunches? Favas, yogurt, tahini, chopped tomatoes, olive oil and I-don't-remember-what spices? Something like that? I love that stuff!

12:31 AM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Susan!

I think your friend does the mezze version - I just heat up some olive oil, use lots of garlic, some cumin powder and tomatoes and then pour the beans in and cook. Parsley for garnish. It's so easy and so absolutely tasty. I usually have some hummous and tabouleh on the side.

Thanks for visiting the anthropology blog - sometimes I worry that some of the subjects I tackle might not be politically correct, but, I try to keep it honest. Wish I had more time to blog!

1:11 AM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

the favas down here are still too small inside the gigantic pods. that outer skin is more tender, but it still tastes like hell. i rarely cook fresh favas, but my favorite way to eat them is raw, stripping them of their skin one by one, with a little "raw" homemede pancetta on a gorgeous spring day after a great meal. try it:)

11:32 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Tracie, You make your own pancetta?! Wow! How do you do it? I'll have to try the simple fresh fava with pancetta idea. I have yet to eat raw pancetta even though its normal here. I have to get over this but I can't help thinking about contracting Trychnosis or something. Somebody once served me raw "lardo" though; much better than it sounds.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

magari! no, there was a salumeria in ischia where the owner made his own pancetta. it was divine! i had an issue with the raw thing too, but one day they forced me to try it, and not wanting to be rude, i did. it's not actually raw here like it is in the states. try it--think lardo with a little bit of saline meat attached. how can you resist?

9:50 AM  
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