Sometimes, the kids and I plan our cooking sessions. We find recipes and follow them, measuring with as much precision as we can. We make main dishes or hearty sides, wait for everyone to get home, and eat dinner together as an extended family.
This is not one of those times.
Fresh fava beans are too delicious and too much of a hassle to make into a dinner dish. They’re meant for immediate consumption, by whoever puts the effort into preparing them.
So the boys and I pick a bunch of favas from the garden. We shell them, which takes a while, but it’s fun. Or at least, I trust that it will seem like fun in their memories of sitting around the table, shelling fava beans, chatting and sharing stories.
Once we’ve shelled the beans, we simmer them for a minute or two, rinse them in cool water, and eat them straight from the colander, popping them out of their skins and straight into our mouths.
How to enjoy fava beans
1. Pick or buy a bunch of fava beans. You only get a few little beans from each pod, so get plenty.
2. Rip open the pods and pull out the beans. Notice that the insides of the pods are thick and fluffy. Why do you think this is?
3. Keep shelling. Once you get the hang of it, you can tear the end off the pod, then squeeze right behind each bump. The seeds will pop right out, into the pan. Except sometimes they will fly across the room. (The kids were much more enthusiastic about shelling fava beans after I demonstrated this.)
4. Once you’ve shelled all the beans, put them in a pot. Cover them with water, and have a grownup put them on the stove. Simmer them for just a couple of minutes.
5. Once they’re ready, the skins of the beans will turn whitish, and the bean inside will turn bright green. Drain the beans and rinse them off with cool water. (To cool them down so you don’t burn your hands.)
6. You don’t eat the the light green skins, just the bright green beans inside. Usually, there’s already a tear in the skin — otherwise, you can use your thumbnail or tooth to open it up. Then, just squeeze the bright green bean out of its slippery skin.
7. If you are patient and generous, you can skin all the fava beans first, then share them with your family.
If you are me, you will eat them straight away, standing at the counter, popping the tender green beans straight into your mouth. If you want, touch your fingers to a little bit of salt or a lemon as you go, and the flavor will get on the beans as you eat them.