Fava Bean Tops

Farmers have secret treasures that they share sometimes, if you’re lucky!  Raise your hand if you knew that fava bean shoots, tender young leaves, and blossoms are not only palatable, but delicious….

Farmers Tom and Patrice DeNoble, of DeNoble’s Farm, are really into total plant utilization.  It seems that waste not means delicious things for Farmers Market shoppers, as they encourage us to venture with our vegetables into parts of the plant seldom found outside the farm or the Farmers Market.  Brussels sprout leaves, then Brussels sprout rapini were welcome additions to my veggie repertoire this past winter, and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been munching on sweet, crunchy fava bean tops.

“Try a flower,” Tom encourages as I select a bundle.  As the flavors build on my palate, he narrates, “they’re sweet, then there’s the subtle bean flavor.”  The bean flavor lingers, with a soft spring green taste, akin to eating pea shoots.

“How do you eat them?” I ask – this is a great question to ask when buying any vegetable direct from a farmer – they not only grow the products, but they have a lot of experience cooking and eating them, so they’re likely to have at least a few suggestions.

“We just eat them raw, as a salad, or on sandwiches,” Patrice offers. Fair enough – not earth shattering, but as sweet and lovely as they are, that seems like the right thing to do.  I follow suit.  I eat salads, I stuff some into a pita with my falafel, I send them to work with my husband on sandwiches (and snicker at the thought of him in the lunchroom, sitting elbow to elbow with fellow butchers, muscling through a roast pork and fava bean leaves…with flowers…sandwich).

Fava shoots can be used as you would pea shoots – a very light sauté, really just a jump or two in a skillet with some heated good-flavored olive oil and a sprinkling of flor de sal, yields a silkily tender plate of greens.  Or wilt them into hot pasta as you stir in the sauce.  Fresh fettuccine and spring salmon in a light lemon cream sauce with fava shoots, perhaps?  Garnished with the delicate flowers….
I think I know what I’ll be getting at the Portland Farmers Market tomorrow!

Shopping List

Spring Salmon with Lemon Cream & Wilted Shoots
4 servings

1 ½ cups heavy cream
the peel of 1 lemon, no white pith
8 oz. salmon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ a bunch of fava bean or pea shoots, cut into ½ inch pieces
fresh fettuccine for 4
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Combine the cream and the lemon peel in a non-reactive pot.  Season with salt.  Bring slowly to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and gently cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, adjust seasoning and let steep for at least half an hour.  Strain to remove lemon peel.

Meanwhile, place the salmon on an oiled baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Bake in a 300 F oven until just done (about 10 minutes).  When the fish is cool enough to handle, break it into large flakes.  

When you are ready to serve the dish, combine the flaked fish and lemon cream in a sauté pan.  Warm gently.  In another skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame.  When the oil is hot, add the fava or pea shoots and a pinch of salt, and stir-fry them until they are just wilted (less than a minute – actually just several seconds).  Remove the shoots to a plate.  

Cook the pasta.  When it is almost finished, add the chives to the salmon sauce and check the seasonings.  Gently toss the pasta with the sauce, garnish with fava bean flowers, if available, and serve immediately. 


About Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans

By offering Sage Culinary Advice, The Farmer's Feast assists Farmers' Market shoppers in making the most of their purchases, and helps vendors realize the culinary possibilities of their products. We create culinary education programs at Farmers' Markets. Through food preparation and cooking demonstrations, recipes focusing on technique, samples, stories and free advice, we're encouraging people to cook more often, from scratch, with market-fresh ingredients. Our goal? To cultivate domestic culinary arts. Once you've tasted the Farmer's Feast - glistening local produce, pastured meats, artisan cheese, wild seafood, rich nuts, grains and legumes - and see how easy cooking this bounty can be, you'll be hungry for fresh. Visit The Farmer's Feast on Facebook / E-mail wildeats@msn.com
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4 Responses to Fava Bean Tops

  1. Pingback: 6/10/13 | Cully Neighborhood Farm

  2. Anthony says:

    I like your writing style. Just picked up some shoots at the farmers market…will get to experimenting.

  3. Rachel Weinstein says:

    Hi Kathryn. Below is the Sour Cherry Rice Pilaf recipe. I was given the recipe at the Hillsdale market by a Persian woman who kindly shared. I have made this with the traditional Basmati rice and also with Frikeh from Ayer’s Farm. Below is from the email I sent to Norma. Best, Rachel Weinstein

    Below is the recipe for the cherry rice pilaf, which is really called, Albalu Polow. Polow is pilaf in Persian. As I started thinking about this, I realize that you can probably learn a lot about a person by the way they approach a recipe. Since I was never given exact amounts to work with I just follow the structure and try and make the dish proportionally. Last night I made it for Sarah and me with 1 cup of rice. I have made it with 1.5 cups and 3 cups and it’s turned out similarly well each time…….it appears to be a very forgiving recipe. Also, last night I only soaked the rice for 90 mins instead of two hours and I really couldn’t tell the difference.

    Persian Cherry and Saffron Rice Pilaf

    – Basmati rice 1 to 3 cups, rinse and soak rice for 2 hours
    – Sour cherries: I used about 2/3 c of pitted cherries last night and about 1.5 cups or a little more for 3 cups of rice. + extra cherries for the syrup. I just guess at about 1/2 to 3/4 c and sprinkle with baking sugar. Then I heat the mixture on low until the sugar dissolves and then turn it down to simmer while I make the rest of the dish. I either cut the cherries in half to pit, or I use a paper clip and scoop the pit out.
    – Saffron mixed with 1/4 to 1/c of water
    – Butter or olive oil

    Soak the rice for two hours and drain. Cover with fresh water and cook until al dente…..about 8 minutes and then drain. In a new pan – I have used a pot with rounded sides that it narrower at the bottom, but a saute pan would work as long as it’s narrow enough for two layers. Either melt butter or heat olive oil in the new pan over medium heat. Add a layer of rice and cover with cherries and repeat. Pour the saffron and water over the rice and increase heat to medium high for a few minutes to create a crust on the bottom. (apparently this crust is fought over) Reduce heat to simmer and place a towel under the lid and cover. Simmer until cooked through…..about another 6-10 mins depending on the amount of rice and type of pan or pot. Uncover and turn the into a serving bowl with the crusty rice on top. Drizzle with the syrup and cherries and serve.

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