Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fava bean puree with homemade pita chips

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.


  1. Hey, thats a fantastic snack! Need helping eating that up? Call me...
    *kisses* HH

  2. Sounds like a great snack and super healthy!

  3. I know what you mean about the canniness, you just can't mix fresh and canned. I've done it before and only felt disappointment. I agree, mediocrity is OK sometimes.

  4. Fava beans are worth the work I have decided amd gotten over my phobia. Our fava bean recipe coming soon....

  5. This sounds like a wonderful nosh :-). The colors are wonderful and I'm sure this is delicious. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  6. obsessive but lazy describes me perfectly, so if you stumble upon this wildly lucrative career, do tell. :)
    fava beans are good, but i don't like to hassle with them. your puree is quite tempting though, even with the canniness from the cannellinis. :)

  7. I am interested in those chips, I love salty crunchy things. I recently inherited a package of pita chips which I inhaled and this snack sounds awesome, canny or no...

  8. HH: Thanks! Too bad you aren't a closer neighbor!

    oneordinaryday: yes, it has healthy going for it.

    Pam: You'd think adding a fresh herb or veg would elevate the canniness--and I guess it sometimes does...but not always.

    ALY: looking forward to it!

    Mary: thank you! Lovely day to you as well.

    grace: perhaps we could become partners in this fantasy business? :)

    foodhoe: The chips were certainly the best part. Pita chips are ridiculously good...

  9. Thanks, Sophie! Yes nothing beats fresh favas...

  10. I used to work in a restaurant where we made fava bean purée. It was served with oyster mushrooms that had been sliced thinly and baked until crispy. It was certainly a process, but man, was that dish good!

  11. camille: ooh, favas with oyster mushrooms sounds amazing! I'd like a recipe for that please...

  12. Fava beans definitely require patience. But they are so worth it. They only come around for a brief spell in spring, so you have to pounce when you see them.

  13. Well, if I remember correctly, slice the mushrooms, drizzle them with olive oil and salt. Then place them between two silpats with one baking sheet on the bottom and one on top (to really get them flat). Bake at a low temperature for a long-ass time. They come out almost bacon-y.

  14. CJ: I know, their season is far too short!

    Camille: Holy cow, that sounds amazing. Thank you!!