Monday, August 17, 2009
Cream of the Crop
I never thought it'd be possible to be this spoiled. Well through the summer and near the end of it in fact, I continue to get fresh fava beans, one of my favorite (and fleeting) spring treats. The wacky weather here in NYC and in much of the east coast has caused some springtime produce to linger while barely whetting our appetites for summer goodies. While green tomatoes and cucumbers made appearances two weeks ago and fully ripe red and yellow tomatoes finally arrived at the CSA last week, it's the presence of the fava beans and baby greens of springtime that are keeping me on my toes. As much as I love fava beans, I haven't really made that much with them in the past since their season is traditionally (and notoriously) short. If I've gotten one batch a year I've been lucky, but the truth is I've mostly had to rely on seasonal restaurant dishes in previous years to get me my fresh fava fix.
So when I trotted home with yet another bag of beans I wondered what was left to do. I'd done all I could with leaving them whole, and I was still loving them too much to mask their funky flavor, so I decided to go for a nice, smooth fava cream. Despite the name there's not actually much dairy in this recipe, just a few tablespoons of whole milk, which could be left out altogether and replaced with more extra virgin olive oil or even a dollop of low-fat yogurt if that makes you feel better (don't even bother with reduced fat milk--it's too watery). The recipe in general is pretty fluid to suit your needs. I like mine with a generous squeeze of lemon juice to lend a nice citrusy pop to the seafood I tend to serve it with, but it'd be just as good with a hint of dill or tarragon under a bed of lobster or jumbo shrimp, or even with some duck breast (it would cut the fattiness really well).
I happened to make my fava cream with a gorgeous fillet of black cod, which in my house typically gets the miso glaze treatment. This time I decided to let my delicious CSA ingredients shine (wilted swiss chard with garlic and lots of black pepper), so I simply pan-roasted it, with a quick finish in the oven. I made a beautiful green puddle of the fava cream, put down a bed of swiss chard in the center, and topped it with a black cod fillet. I drizzled the whole thing with a warm lemon-honey-mustard vinaigrette before finishing the dish with a scatter of whole favas for a little toothy bite. This dinner comes together really quickly, is really gorgeous, and is sure to impress if you're cooking for a crowd. The fava cream can be made ahead of time (even a day or two), and the swiss chard can also be prepped (washed, roughly chopped, stems removed) a few hours or even a day before cooking. If you have guests (or a hungry family), all that's left to do is pan roast the fish (only 2 minutes a side) and saute the swiss chard while the fish finishes in the oven, a mere 5-7 minutes more. Even if you did do it with no work ahead prep, I guarantee you'd be in and out of the kitchen in less than 45 minutes. I haven't bothered to give you the swiss chard recipe since it's just washed, chopped and sauteed quickly in olive oil and garlic, but give the fava cream a try, it's a great light spring meal. And if you're dying to try the fish, just let me know--I'd be happy to put that recipe up as well.
Fava Bean Cream
1 lb fava beans, shelled
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 small garlic clove (or half a large one)
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp whole milk
1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add shelled fava beans and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove beans to an ice bath to cool (and maintain color). Once they've cooled to the touch, remove outer skin to reveal the bright green beans inside.
2. Add fava beans, lemon juice, zest, garlic, milk and half of the broth to a blender. Puree until combined, slowly streaming in olive oil. Add more broth as necessary to achieve desired thickness or to thin-out. If your blender leaves chunky bits, run the cream through a sieve.
3. Season with salt and serve with your favorite protein (or toss with angel hair or linguine--yum!).