One evening last week I was in the mood for a pre-dinner snack. As you may recall, one of my favorite things to whip up on such occasions is white bean puree with pita chips. For a few months or maybe years, I made this little nosh quite a bit.
I think I went overboard on it, though, because recently I haven't really felt like making or eating it. Sometimes when I look at the cans of cannellini beans in the pantry I can't help but grimace. And when I've mentioned it to the husband, he's made a face, too. Guess I made it one time too many. What can I say? I have a semi-obsessive personality.
Happily, there are other dips to be had. And isn't it fun to take something seasonal and make it the star? Something like fava beans.
You know the method. Take the fava beans out of their cute caterpillar-like pods, and for as long as you can stand it, remove the thin coverings on each one. I tried to find pleasure in this simple (if mind-numbing) task, but after awhile, I chucked the remainder of the unshelled beans into the food processor. They were awfully tiny and who would know the difference? I'm obsessive but lazy, a combination I'd like to channel into a wildly lucrative career someday.
The second frustrating thing about fava beans is that you buy a pound of them but by the time you're done shelling, you only have about 1/2 a cup. They didn't even form a single layer over the bottom of the food processor. So after a moment's hesitation, I opened a can of cannellini beans along with salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, a small garlic clove, and a big handful of basil.
It looked very pretty, if a little like guacamole.
The pita chips turned out crispy, golden, and dusted in sea salt.
When all was said and done, though, this puree, although more than edible, would have been better without the cannellini beans. I felt their canniness took away from the freshness of the favas, which is the root of their appeal--they taste like a new spring garden.
I've done a pure fava bean puree before, in more disciplined days when somehow I gathered the patience to shell what must have been two to three pounds of the little suckers. Those days are over, though, or at least on hold. But I do have fond memories of that puree, which always turned out brighter in taste and greener in color. I often used mint, a better match than basil. My recent combination ended up tasting vaguely like pesto, which wasn't what I was going for. I do think it would be good on a sandwich, however.
Oh well. Sometimes it's enough for a snack to be functional--something to hold you over until dinner is ready. It need not meet every culinary expectation. When it does, great. But I can live with mediocrity from time to time.
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