Week 7

  • Fava beans
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Basil
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Salad turnips
  • Radish
  • Two mini lettuce heads
  • Green onion

Fava beans are a bit of a labor of love in the kitchen, but they are worth it!  Please check the bottom of this post to find great preparation ideas from “Bounty From the Box – The CSA Farm Cookbook” on favas.  Also please check into the Cook With What You Have website for more great fava ideas including fava hummus, fava burgers, fava salads, and more!  We are just giving fava beans out this one time but hope we are giving out a large portion so you can do something fun with them.

In other news, zucchini and cucumber season has arrived!  Hooray!  You’ll probably be seeing these in your share every week until somewhere late August / early September.  Zucchini are great grilled, or raw they can be made into pencils for dipping (as can cukes of course), or try grating them (perhaps with other root veggies like turnips) and mixing with egg, flour, and oil and then frying to make “zucchini pancakes.”  If you have a spiralizer you can try zucchini pasta as well.

In the fields it definitely feels like we are moving from spring to summer.  There are a lot of spring crops that are finished (peas, broccoli, arugula, some of our salad greens…) which we are turning over either for fall crops or cover crops that enhance the soil.  We have a bunch of little starts in the greenhouse waiting to be transplanted out for fall: more kale, collards, cabbage, kohlrabi, swiss chard, lettuce, escarole, radicchio, … and more.  We will also soon be seeding some of our fall root crops directly into the ground that take a while to mature like beets, and carrots.  On that note, I’ll give a quick carrot update.  We almost decided to harvest carrots this week, but being that the first planting is pretty thin, we decided to wait to let them size up a bit more so you’ll get more carrot per carrot 🙂  Perhaps next week if they’ve grown significantly you’ll start seeing them.  New summer potatoes will also be coming to the shares soon.  So suffice it to say, lots of changes in your produce bags.  We try to keep the lettuce coming all year round, as well as some kind of cooking green and some kind of allium (garlic, onion, leek).

And now, for the big story on favas, courtesy of: “Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, by Mi Ae Lipe”

FAVAS

History

Favas are one of the oldest foods for people; they originated in the Mediterranean, where local populations are known to have been eating them by 6000 BCE or earlier. The plants’ hardiness and delectable seeds made them especially popular throughout Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Favas were the original bean in the traditional Twelfth Night cake, the festivities during which some branches of Christianity mark the coming of the Epiphany. A single dried bean was baked into the cake, and whoever found the bean in his cake would rule the feast (or at least host the next Twelfth Night party).

Nutrition

Fava beans are incredibly nutritious; a 1-cup serving of shelled favas contains 187 calories, plus significant amounts of protein, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B6, thiamine, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese. Favas are one of the richest plant sources of potassium and dietary fiber, as well as certain phytonutrients. Interestingly, favas also contain levodopa, a precursor of brain neurochemicals that regulate body movement; as a result, some medical studies are being carried out to see if favas can be beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Storage

Because the bulky pods take up lots of room, you can shell the beans first. Either way, tightly wrap unwashed favas in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Use within a few days; they are not the best keepers.

Trimming and Cleaning

Probably the main reason why fava beans have never really caught on in the American culinary scene is that they are extremely labor-intensive. The beans first need to be shelled; unzip the little string from the flower end of the pod downward and remove them. Then either boil them briefly (see the instructions below) or place them in a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. After the water has cooled enough to handle the beans, drain it off.

Now the work begins: Each bean has a thick skin that needs to be individually peeled. Very young favas can possibly be left unpeeled, but any bean more mature than that really must have these slightly bitter skins removed, otherwise chewing them is a fibrous, unpleasant task. To peel them, slit the wrinkled skin with the tip of a knife or pinch it with your fingernail, and gently slip it off the bean. As in the old days of shelling garden peas, this is a good job to do with friends, over drinks and convivial conversation; then enjoy the lovely gustatory rewards afterward.

Steaming and Boiling

For peeling, boil shelled favas in salted, boiling water for 30 seconds (any longer than that will render them a mushy mess when you try to peel them). Drain and remove the skins of each individual bean (see the Trimming and Cleaning instructions above). To continue cooking, steam the beans over rapidly boiling water for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on their size, or until tender. Or boil the shelled favas in several quarts of salted water until they turn just bright green and tender, 2 to 6 minutes.

Stir-Frying and Sautéing

Young favas are incredibly delicious stir-fried or quickly sautéed with light seasonings or other delicate vegetables. Sauté shelled and peeled beans for 7 to 10 minutes on medium-high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Be sure to add some liquid, such as melted butter, olive oil, or even water to the pan, or they will stick.

Serving Suggestions

• Favas are at their best when adorned very simply—olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon juice, or chile flakes.

• A sprinkling of cooked fava beans brightens veal, seafood, roasted poultry, and sautéed meats. Or drizzle a spoonful or two of the meat’s pan juices over the beans—yummy.

• Pair fresh favas with savory morel mushrooms; happily, they both appear at the same time in the spring.

• Toss favas into pasta dishes—their bright green color, nutty flavor, and creamy texture are a nice contrast with the noodles.

• Substitute rich, hearty favas for lima beans in succotash.

• Favas sprinkled with shavings of dense, rich cheeses like Parmesan, Asiago, and pecorino are a marriage made in heaven.

• Stir favas into frittatas, omelets, and other egg dishes for quick meals.

• Puree fava beans with cheese, pistachio nuts, garlic, and olive oil (in essence, a type of pesto); serve over thick slices of crusty artisan bread.

• Young favas are delicious stir-fried or quickly sautéed with light seasonings or other delicate spring vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, and mushrooms.

• The fresh, green flavor of fava beans makes a hummus that is different from the usual chickpea-based ones. Mix with sour cream or a little Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, and lots of fresh herbs.

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