It is that wonderful time of year, fava bean season! Two weeks ago, they were overflowing at the fresh market and before I knew it, I was walking home with more than I could carry. Being a vegetarian most of the time, there are very few vegetables that take on a 'meatier' consistency, but favas definitely fill that role. While they are a labor of love to cook with, since they need to be shelled twice, they are worth their weight in gold. I ended up spending an entire afternoon with these green beauties and decided to combine them with fennel, another favorite vegetable that is chock-full of nutrition, for an easy and healthy meal. This recipe comes together very quickly, after you have the favas prepared, but let me tell you, they are worth it!
BRAISED FENNEL AND FAVA BEANS WITH LEMON
3 pounds fava beans, shelled or if unavailable 2 cups canellini beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 lemon, halved
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 cup water, or dry white wine
Directions: Prepare the fava beans by removing them from their pod. Prepare a bowl full of ice and water. Place water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add fava beans and cook for about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place into ice bath. Once cool, remove the outer shell from the beans by either gently squeezing them or use a knife. Set aside. In a braising pan, place a drizzle of olive oil, garlic and shallots. Cook until translucent over medium heat. Add fennel and water/wine, beans and lemon juice of 1/2 a lemon. Cook until beans and fennel are tender. Garnish with fennel fronds and another drizzle of olive oil, if desired before serving.