Last weekend, Kevin—bless his heart—agreed to do the grocery shopping. We had a really busy weekend, so I jumped at the offer. I also made a ridiculously detailed grocery list. I knew I had a couple things on the list that might be difficult to find, so I included some locational information. But, for some reason, I failed to do so when I listed “fava beans”—treating them more like plain old (easy-to-find) eggs or milk, rather than the spring delicacy that they are. He had no idea whether they were fresh, canned or frozen. No idea what they looked like. No idea that he might have to fight off other foodies at the store who’d also been waiting patiently for favas to make their brief spring appearance.
To Kevin’s immense credit, he found the favas. And he scooped up a big handful and proudly presented them to me when I got home. My heart swelled with pride. And, man, was I excited to finally try out this new-to-me ingredient. Well, um, what I didn’t realize is that an entire pound of fava pods yields a mere cup of beans. So the handful (five, maybe six pods) Kevin had previously proudly brandished resulted in a scant tablespoon or two of pods. And that was after the double-shucking (first, split open the pods and extract the beans; second, plunge the beans briefly into boiling water, drain and rub off the outer skins—see the top two rows of photos, above) that they require. Apparently, favas not only like to play hard-to-get, but they’re high maintenance too. Quite the divas.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
But, ooooh are they good: buttery and delicate and meaty. And brilliantly green, which made them fast friends with the other spring veggies Kevin had harvested at the store: peas and asparagus. A saute of the trio went into an earthy risotto made with farro instead of arborio. The final product was definitely skimpy on favas, but no matter. It was still creamy, comforting and hearty.
Spring Farro Risotto
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup farro (semi-pearled)
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1 cup dry white wine
3 to 4 cups chicken stock (if store-bought, choose low-sodium)
1 tablespoon greek yogurt (such as Fage 0%)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 pound fava beans, hulled*
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (leaving tips intact and separate)
In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, sauteeing for several minutes, until the onions are softened. Add the farro, salt and pepper; stir for one minute, being sure to coat the farro with oil. Add the white wine and cook until it’s absorbed. Add the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing the farro to absorb the stock between additions. After adding 3 cups of stock, taste the farro. If it’s al dente, stop adding stock. If it still has too much of a bite, keep adding stock until it’s al dente. Once the farro is done, stir in the tablespoon of yogurt.
In another skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus tips, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the remaining asparagus, peas and favas, stirring for another few minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Add the vegetables and parmesan to the farro. Serve warm, with an additional dusting of parmesan and freshly-cracked pepper, if desired.
* To prepare the favas: first, split open the pods and extract the beans; second, plunge the beans briefly into boiling water, drain and cool slightly, and rub off the outer skins.