Alice's Fava Bean Spread
Life can be hard. Work is overwhelming, relationships are complicated, being healthy is a full time job. It can feel impossible to wake up and even more so to go to sleep. It’s not easy making friends, it takes work to keep them, and losing them sucks. Staying motivated aint always easy, and motivating others isn’t a walk in the park either. And on top of it all, it’s hard to shell a fava bean.
So why do it? Why do we willfully put ourselves into situations that will inevitably be challenging for us? The easy road is often the road less travelled, but it’s the one that’s evenly paved, well lit, and tree-lined. Why don’t we take that road more often? Is it because we’re bored: because we’re masochistic, because we love the stress? No. We do it because it’s worth it.
I learned this mantra from a very wise shell. His name is Marcel and he’s partially a shell, but he also has shoes and a face. If you haven’t met this little fella, you’d best get acquainted right quick. Marcel is a tenacious guy with a zest for life, a can-do attitude, and a scrappy personality. He is more than a YouTube star; he is a role model. “Wanna know why I smile so much?” he asks. “Because, it’s worth it.”
And it is worth it! Smiling makes you feel good, duh! But “It’s worth it” means a lot more than that. For me, it’s a reminder that I work hard, love deeply, and think forwardly because succeeding, overcoming, and improving every day keeps life interesting.
Some things that are worth it:
50 hour work weeks spent solving big problems on not much sleep. Why bother? Because, it’s worth it.
Backing my roommate’s car out of the driveway, moving the bikes out of the way, taking my car out of the garage, putting the bikes back, and returning my roommate’s car to the driveway in order to drive to Sydney and Justine’s house for family dinner every week. Wanna know why? Durrr, it’s worth it.
Using every last drop of willpower to skip the bacon, the carnitas taco, and the steak sandwich, no matter how effing good it smells all because meat is bad for the environment. What’s the point? The point is that it’s worth it.
Flying on planes even though it’s the scariest thing in the world. You’re sitting in a chair…in the sky! But you know what? It’s worth it.
Making my bed, biking to work, taking the high road, putting a bra on, buying organic, running on weekends, meditating, journaling, reading past the boring parts in books, calling my family. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Shelling, blanching, ice bathing, peeling, sautéing, and smashing fava beans to make this dip. It’s no small feat, but guess what? Yep. It’s worth it.
Like me, fava beans are high maintenance. Are we both “worth” it? Better to ask my parents than anyone I’ve dated about that one. Point is, these little suckers take work. They may just look like genetically modified edamame, but they’re actually a delicious harbinger of spring. Fava beans mean that the cold is over and signal the start of the yummy spring season. First you’re eating fava beans, then you’re knee deep in heirloom tomatoes, and before you know it, winter is coming and if you don’t like kale and butternut squash, you’d better start.
But unlike the bounty that comes with warm weather, this crop can’t just be sliced and diced and served with a sprinkle of salt. If you want fava beans, you’re gonna work for them. When they first showed up in my weekly CSA, I was resigned to letting them go bad in the fridge before feeding them to the compost. Instead, I took to Alice Waters’ cookbook The Art of Simple Food for a little California cuisine guidance.
“Fava beans require a little extra effort to shell and peel before cooking, but they are well worth it,” she says.
The big meaty favas that are harvested toward the end of the season are bright green, refreshing in flavor, and pretty as can be. Alice’s recipe takes some effort, but the results are divine. We’re talking silky spread with fragrant garlic and rosemary flavors; the perfect crostini topping, but also acceptable eaten by the spoonful.
Like many things in life, it’s worth it.
2 cups shelled fava beans
¼ cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While water is heating up, de-shell the fava beans. Place ice and water in a large bowl.
Once water is boiling, add the fava beans. Blanche for 30 seconds, then drain. Add the fava beans to the ice bath to keep them from continuing to cook.
Remove the casing from the fava beans. Use your thumbnail to remove a bit of the casing, then, gently squeeze to release the bean from the casing.
Heat most of the olive oil and a ¼ cup of water in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Once it’s pretty hot, add the fava beans. Cook, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, smash the fava beans into a chunky paste. Create a depression in the center. Fill with remaining olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Let simmer until fragrant, then stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot or room temperature with crusty bread or crackers.