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And a nice Chianti July 16, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, Wine & Spirits.

Yep, we tried the fava beans the other night.  And yes, we did serve the dish with a nice Chianti.

PhotobucketA very nice Chianti, actually.  😉

Here’s something that’s nice to watch for, if you’re a Chianti drinker.  The label is Tomaiolo, and it’s a delightfully smooth and rich, full-bodied Italian red.  The “riserva” part actually means the wine has been aged in the barrel a little longer than non-reserve wines – and that’s a good thing.  🙂

I first happened upon this wine in a little wine shop, and it was about $12, so we decided to give it a try.  And we LOVED it!  So much, so, in fact, that I went back and bought a case, which earned me a 10% discount.  😀

Then, a couple of years ago, Peeps and I visited the Berkshires with my parents, and what did we find in another little wine shop?  Yes, our dear friend Tomaiolo, for around $11 a bottle.  PLUS, and here’s the really neat part – Massachusetts doesn’t charge sales tax on wine.  MASSACHUSETTS!  😯

PhotobucketHowever, that’s not why we’re here today, much as I love my wine.  😉

Last time we went to the public market, I picked up a basket of fava beans, which neither Peeps nor I had ever tried.  From what I understand, they’re the kind of thing you either love or hate – and, like ramps and garlic scapes,  they’re not readily available out-of-season.  So we grabbed them while we could!  😆

What we didn’t do was go crazy and buy a bushel – who knew if we’d even like them?  😯

I just got what was, basically, a quart-sized basket.  That should be enough to try, and if we like them, well, we’ll either get more, or we’ll know for next year, right?  😉


So we got the fava beans home, and I did some research on the internet.  The first thing I looked for was a simple recipe for the beans, and I found an interesting-looking fava bean stew to try.

I think the reason so many people don’t like them?  Might be because they’re a GINORMOUS pain in the NECK to deal with!  Unlike regular green beans, you have to shell them.  Think of green peas on steroids.  😯

And why is it so hard to take a photo one-handed?  I mean, I’m trying to get a shot of the beans inside the pod, and THIS is the best I can do.  😥

So the whole basket of fava beans, shelled, yields maybe 3/4 of a cup.  And this is going to be stew. OK, then.

Now these guys aren’t actually “edible” quite yet.  Well, I guess, if you’re, say, livestock they might be, but there’s still prep to be done.  First the beans are shelled.

Then they have to be blanched – dump them into boiling water just long enough to soften the tough outer skins – about 5 minutes, actually.  Then I cut a little slit in the  skin and squeeze it until the little bean just sort of POPS! out of the skin.  Repeat until all beans are skinned.  THEN the beans are ready to cook.  Yeah.  Pain in the neck.

So.  The stew.  Remember we were making a stew?  While I was waiting for the water to boil, then blanching the beans, I chopped up the rest of the vegetables.  It actually worked out nicely.  😀

So, the mis en place:

1 bulb fresh fennel, chopped


1 medium-ish onion, chopped.  If you can get “this year’s” onions, all the better – by now, the onions harvested last fall are kind of, well, yucky.  This was actually the last of them – I had to peel several layers of slimy skin off, and it was still kind of slippery and nasty.  😦


Photobucket You’re also going to need a bunch of Swiss chard – this would be a good time to consider soaking and cleaning that.   And if you happen to have some, say, growing in your garden, all the better!  😆

Wash the chard well, then  chop it coarsely.  You’ll want, altogether, a couple of cups of chopped chard.

PhotobucketI also tossed in a diced carrot – the original recipe was a little confusing on this point (it talked about cooking the carrot, but there was none in the ingredient list), so I figured, hey, what the heck, if nothing else, it will add a little color!  😆

The fennel, onion, carrot and our now blanched fava beans got sauteed in my small stainless dutch oven in a bit of olive oil – just a (ahem) glug or so – until they start to soften.  You may also want to add some salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, and maybe even a couple of cloves of garlic.  If, you know, you wanted to.   Which I did.


Once your aromatics are softened and a little browned, go ahead and dump the chard in the pot.


It will fill the pot,  but that’s just temporary!  Just give it a quick stir, then slap a lid on and set your timer for, say, about 40 minutes.   Go watch Japanese Game Show, which you’ve hopefully DVR’ed – the timer should go off right before the final elimination round, assuming you fast forward through the commercials.  😀

PhotobucketGo, take a look. Greens are amazing that way – what was a full pot of vegetables is now . . . not.  😕

Dump in a pint of diced tomatoes, if you have some left from last fall (drain them a little first).  Or you could use a couple of cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped, if you’re far enough south to have them already. Or you could just throw a (drained) can of tomatoes in.  Your choice, I guess.

Meanwhile, you’ll also want to start some rice, I think.  I suppose you could use pasta, but rice is so much easier to start, then go back to finish what we were watching.  😳

So cover it back up and cook until the beans are done, and the rice is ready to rest, about another 20 minutes.

While the rice is resting, just take the lid off the pot (the stew, not the rice) and let it simmer, uncovered, to reduce some of the liquid – it’s stew, not soup, right?

PhotobucketOnce the liquid has reduced and the rice has rested, it’s been about an hour, and you will be STARVING!  Just scoop some rice into a bowl, then ladle the stew on top, and you’re ready to go.  We shaved some parm on top, but honestly, I think it was a distraction.

The verdict?

Well, I’m going to start by saying that this dish is what has ultimately led to “Cook’s Choice Night” – Peeps version on Mondays and my version on Thursdays.  In a very non-structured sort of way, of course.  😳

After all, although our tastes are similar in many ways, we each have favorites that the other is, well, less than excited about.  It would be very sad if, say, Peeps had to go the rest of his life without ever having another, I don’t know, sardine.  And I certainly don’t want to give up eggplant forever, either.  😥

After all, if worst comes to worst, we both know where the peanut butter is kept!  😆

So, back to the verdict.  I loved this stew.  I loved the harmony of all those bold flavors, the texture of the fava beans and the warm-soup-belly feeling afterwards.  Even more, I loved that, other than a splash of olive oil, there was virtually nothing in there but veggies.  I have no doubt in my mind that this would freeze beautifully, and make wonderful lunches for me later.

Peeps . . . didn’t get excited about it.  Now granted, he’d had a big lunch just a few hours before, but, well, he didn’t care for it.  I could tell by the way he just ate half of his serving and sort of pushed the bowl away.  😦

That’s OK, though.  I ate it.  😀

And before I forget.

We’re going to be submitting this to Fearless Fridays over at Home Ec 101 .  Dude – it’s fava beans! Be sure to visit Heather and Ivy and see who else is trying something new!


1. judy - July 19, 2009

Wow…. that was a process wasn’t it? Looked yummy to me. I guess you just never know about others to you.


Toy Lady - July 20, 2009

It actually wasn’t that hard – the beans were kind of a pain, but other than that, it was mostly do something, then wait around, do something else, then wait around . . . 😉

And I didn’t think it was going to turn out to be Peeps’s favorite or anything – he’s never been big on just veggies. . . oh well, more for me. 😀

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