June 26th, 2011

Favas, Sun Golds, Lemon Basil, Summer!


A recent post of food blogger friend Tracy reminded me of the contemplative pleasures of repetitive vegetable prep—stringing sugar snaps, husking and de-silking corn, shelling peas. I recalled how, in my catering kitchen, my assistants–especially my sister and comrade Jennie— would always scramble and fight over who got to snap the bushel of green beans, or peel the shriveled skins off of roasted tomatoes and red bell peppers.

“Kids,” I’d have mediate these women like a mother, “there’s enough for both. Share.”

But, I understood “the fight.” The hands happily occupied, it was fun, and soothing, to move through these tasks while chatting with co-workers, or imagining how the meal would take shape, or allowing the mind to drift to some other far-away place. It’s a blissful part of kitchen life.

Like Tracy, I also find pleasure in focusing on the process itself, its tactile sensations, studying the size and shape and color of the produce, the incremental chipping away at what some might deem a daunting task.

Fava beans satisfy in all those ways.


Favas have thick, fleshy pods, with a fine bit of fuzz on the exterior of the jackets. If you’re lucky, they’ll zip open to reveal a number of plump, light green seeds. The white interior is a custom cushion, protecting each one.

If small enough, (as in smaller that your thumbnail) you can cook those beans as they are. Larger ones need to be briefly blanched to remove yet another sheath, making it a two-fold process.

Trouble? Not at all. Fava beans have a special look and flavor that makes them worth the work–if you want to call it that. In the time it takes to prepare them, you can slow down, enjoy the moment,
breathe as Tracy says.

And then, Dine. Mightily!

This past week, I was able to buy a bagful through our Fresh Harvest Co-op. And, in harmony with the solstice, the summer bounty is beginning to show itself in my garden. Volunteer plants from last year’s lemon basil have sprung up, and a sun gold cherry tomato plant, covered in a mass of yellow flowers, is now offering a handful of ripe yellow globes.

I had a salad in mind: favas cooked in olive oil with pieces of garlic scapes, later to be combined with the sweet-acid bite of those sun golds, along with a chiffonade of lemon basil, and a few shards of pecorino.


As I was pinching the beans to squeeze out each lovely green seed, a larger idea began to form: Accompaniments.

Often, throughout the summer, we will eat an all-vegetable plate for supper. It’s a true embrace of the garden.

I would make a couple of other side dishes, simple in preparation,using our just-harvested goodies to go along with our fava salad:

Tiny new potatoes and pearl onions pan-roasted together in brown butter.
The bi-colored Zephyr squash, remarkable for its sweet nut-like flavor, julienned and quickly sauteed.


At the last minute, I fried each of us a farm egg–add a little protein, a little more summer yellow to the plate.


1 lb. Fava Beans (in their pods. shelled will yield about 1 cup)
3″ piece of Garlic Scape, chopped, (or 2 cloves minced garlic)
Good Olive OIl
5-6 large SunGold Tomatoes, cut into tiny wedges
Several leaves Lemon Basil (Fresh Mint is also very good)
Salt and Black Pepper
White Wine Vinegar–a splash
a piece of Pecorino Romano, for shaving

After removing beans from their pods, blanche for 2-3 minutes in rapidly boiling water. Shock in an icy bath to cool the beans. Pinch each one , to squeeze out the beautiful green seed.

Gently heat 3 T. good olive oil in a skillet. Add beans and chopped garlic scape. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir to coat beans well. Cover and simmer, effectively poaching the favas, for 10 minutes.
They will absorb the oil as they cook.

Place favas in a bowl. Stir in sliced sun golds, lemon basil chiffonade. Splash with white wine vinegar. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Dust with shaved bits of pecorino romano and serve. Makes 2 servings.



Until I started reading The Ordinary Cook, an anything-but-ordinary food blog written by Kath of the UK, I had never heard of The Fairy Hobmother. What you need to know is that this British based Wonder of Appliances On Line visits Food Blogs the world over, and is drawn to interesting posts and comments. It is The Fairy Hobmother’s task to spread Joy by granting gifts to worthy commenters. No strings attached, either. Very Nice Indeed.

I know this, because I was the recipient of such a joyous gift ( a tidy-sum of a gift card to Amazon, to spend however I like. Oh, yeah. )

So, dear readers, know that by commenting on this post today, you’ll be drawing the attention of said Fairy Hobmother–and could be the recipient of a special gift yourself. How cool is that?

Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

28 Responses to “Favas, Sun Golds, Lemon Basil, Summer!”
  1. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Oh Yum….I love this recipe and the addition of the “egg”. I have been into adding eggs to dishes recently as well. It it the best way to get some protein into an otherwise just vegetable dish which is what I prefer. Beautiful indeed Nancy.

  2. Kath Says:

    What a wonderful meal. My mum’s broad beans have been enjoyed for the past two weeks and I am hoping that we can start on ours this week. I love them. I am very glad the Fairy Hobmother chose you and have fun choosing how to spend that voucher and thank you for your lovely comment about me.

  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    my pleasure, Kath. Both you and your mum must have amazing gardens.
    With luck, the Fairy Hobmother will return and bestow a gift on another lucky reader/commenter!

  4. Anna Johnston Says:

    What a great recipe. I love the egg, Im crazy about eggs. And Beans, healthy little gems, yet so under utilized in my kitchen. Im always looking for fab new bean ideas. Thanks. :)

  5. heather Says:

    Gorgeous! I love the variety with which you cook for your family. I keep doing the same things over and over again. I’m going to focus on branching out, thank you for inspiring me. Fairy Hobmother? oh, my!

  6. Barbara Says:

    How cool big sister! I am always proud of you, but it is extra nice to hear that others in your cooking world think you are brilliant as well. My culinary skills, as well as my writing, will not win any awards, which is fine,( have learned a lot from you over the years ),but it truly makes me happy to see you recognized for your craft,and all the hard work over the years that you have put into it. You have accomplished so much-operating your own catering business, food styling on television, selflessly donating your time to Second harvest, writing a book,-I could go on!
    BTW-nice recipe today too-we are now getting are squash and onion in from our garden. No beans yet,but they are well on their way. Nice, inspiring way to cook healthy.

  7. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    Oh how I love fresh veggies from the farmer’s market. Your description of the veggies sounds fantastic and I can smell the wonderful aroma of those beans, tomatoes and basil. What a great way to celebrate the summer goodness!

  8. Molly Says:

    The CSA box scheduled for next week has 2 lbs. of fava beans coming in it. I must admit I’m still very much on the fence about them. I am having trouble looking past all the prep work it will take, even though I know how delicious they are when all is said and done.

  9. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Molly, after I made this dish, I came across a recipe on line “braised fava beans in the pod”—-no shelling. Another, maybe on Cooks, had one for roasted favas in the pod—again with no shelling. Sounds worthwhile to check out.

    I think you’ll find several links if you google “braised fava beans” if the pods are young enough, they are edible.

    Good luck!

  10. Tracy Says:

    Simply, you inspire me.

  11. Cathey Grossman Says:

    Wow thanks for the tip on the fava beans second skin!
    I tried to peel them–once!

  12. goodfoodmatters Says:

    No problem, Cathey—and I promise that the next post will feature that grilled chicken with the black raspberry barbecue sauce—I hadn’t forgotten. I’ve been teaching teen cooking camp at Second Harvest, and have gotten behind on my postings….

  13. Shilpa Says:

    I love the simplicity of this dish – I think the use of fresh ingredients make this dish so brilliant! Your blog title says it all – ‘Good food matters’ and it really does…love the addition of fried egg…beautiful and simple…


  14. Barbara Says:

    What a gorgeous plateful that is! I’ve cooked with fava beans once before and while time-consuming, it was well worth the effort. This looks even better than my tired old recipe….
    Copied it already, Nancy!

  15. Faith Says:

    I agree completely about vegetable prep…it’s very relaxing and even fun if you have other people in the kitchen to talk to! This is a stunning plateful of food…love the addition of the fried egg!

  16. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Just beautiful!

  17. Anna and Liz Recipes Says:

    OH MY GOODNESS! My husband LOVES fava beans and I am so glad I found your blog! I have to make this recipes for him!! Your food is amazing! And, I love reading your stories as well! Thanks :)

  18. Cathy Says:

    I always knew that you are a winner, Nancy, but congratulations on the formal recognition! I don’t recall seeing fresh fave in the markets I frequent, but I have some that are small, dried, and shelled, and you have given me the idea to turn them into a salad. Also, I know a bread baker who has talked about the meditative quality of her work: the daily repetition of kneading, rising, and baking soothe the soul and open the mind for thought. She craves the familiar rather than the new and different, but I prefer some of each!

  19. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Nancy, you sure know how to eat. The array on this plate looks so wonderful. Why don’t we have restaurants that serve this sort of thing? I guess Greens here in San Francisco might come close, but I’m pretty sure what you have here takes the cake.

  20. FOODESSA Says:

    Oh, where would we be without our veggies and the whole process that we can enjoy when in preparation of great tasty and healthy dishes.
    Lemon basil is certainly going to have to be on my list of fresh herbs to try.

    Thanks for sharing Nancy…especially a possible gift from a Fairy Foodie like myself ;o)

    Have a great weekend and flavourful wishes,

  21. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Cathy–like you, I need both to fill the creative well.

    Denise–thank you! it’s true, you don’t find this kind of food at a restaurant–in the South we have ” meat-n-threes” but often the veggies are cooked to oblivion, or are rather fat-laden.

    Claudia–of course, the Foodessa Fairy-Foodie is indeed a worthy contender for a Fairy Hobmother visit—-fingers crossed!

  22. Joyti Says:

    I really, really need to get my hands on some fresh fava beans. I’m really curious about them…
    This dish looks very summery and fresh, and delicious.

  23. Jessica@Honestly Good Food Says:

    Oh, those squashes are absolutely beautiful. And, everything is better with a fried egg!

  24. Karen Says:

    Nancy, THIS is why I love reading your blog! Every time I visit, there’s another delicious dish made with beautiful seasonal products waiting for me to enjoy. This lovely arrangement of vegetables looks so scrumptious, especially with the “sides”. Perfect casual summer dining. :-)

  25. Sprinzette @ Ginger and Almonds Says:

    Your recipe and pictures restored my appetite completely – what a gorgeous post, and what a lovely-looking meal.

  26. Greedy Rosie Says:

    Ohh, broad beans. I’ve never been 100% keen on these but we’ve been given some from somebody’s garden, so hopefully they will be nice. I don;t want to do the podding!

    Yours do look great, you’ve given me hope :)

  27. Epicurea Says:

    i really enjoyed the way you describe the preparation process as a meditative exercise – same here. chopping, peeling, stirring and kneading all have such a calming effect after a stressful day and the pure pleasure of working with my hands helps me stay grounded.

  28. Graphoniac Says:

    Wow, such color in this dish! And every bit of it something I’ve never tried before. Maybe I should!

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