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Good Food Corner: Fava Beans

Fava Beans are one of the more than 400 whole foods Diane Onstead breaks down in The Whole Foods Companion. Fresh fava beans are large, flat, and oval, with a firm creamy texture and dainty, nutty taste. Young beans are quite tender, but as they mature, the skin covering the bean becomes coarser and tougher. Older beans need this coarse outer skin removed or “slipped” before they are eaten. If you are fortunate enough to be in possession of young beans, cook them whole. Simply trim the ends, rinse, and cook in boiling water for four to five minutes. The young pods are unexpectedly filling, and you will find one pound in weight will happily satisfy six to eight people as a side dish. Dried favas look like large lima beans and have a mealy, granular texture and an assertive flavor; they need long, slow cooking and their thick skins peeled before eating. Favas can be eaten on their own, in casseroles, or in salads. Served hot with melted butter, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper, and sprinkled with chopped parsley or basil, they are delicious. In most recipes, favas can be substituted for limas

In the Greek and Roman world the broad bean was highly regarded, although there have been some very curious beliefs regarding these beans. Herodotus (History, II.xxxvii) recounts that the Egyptian priests regarded broad beans with horror as unclean, and Pythagoras, who imported many Egyptian elements into his religion, similarly despised them. A tenet of his doctrine of metempsychosis is that souls may transmigrate into beans after death. This may have some connection with the fact that bean feasts traditionally ended funerals, and that they figured in rites to rid households of the evil effects occasioned by the nocturnal visits of lemurs, the wandering souls of the wicked (in England, several beans were placed in graves to keep ghosts away, and if you happened to see a ghost, you were to spit a bean at it). Yet broad beans were popular enough with the lay folk, to whom they were distributed by candidates for public office at election times. The politicians were not simply currying favor, since the beans were used as voting tokens during magisterial elections… In Rome even now, a holiday cake is baked with one fava bean hidden inside; the one who gets the piece with the bean is crowned king (or queen) of the festivities.

Find out more about fava beans and other whole foods.


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

Chelsea Green Weekly for May 5, 2017

Ever wonder what your favorite Chelsea Green authors do between writing groundbreaking–both literally and figuratively–books? Here are the best links and resources for your weekend reading pleasure. Let’s start with The Alzheimer’s Antidote. The Alzheimer’s Antidote Amy Berger has been making the rounds on the health, wellness, and fitness circuit, explaining the theories behind her revolutionary […] Read More

Learn from Chelsea Green authors this summer at Sterling College

Each summer, the School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College in Vermont offers continuing education designed specifically for “agrarians, culinarians, entrepreneurs, and lifelong learners.” Chelsea Green is proud to partner with this program so you can learn from our expert authors in a hands-on, experiential setting at Sterling’s farm and teaching kitchen. Be sure to read […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More
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