Once upon a time, while cleaning out my kitchen pantry I encountered a jarful of dried organic fava beans that had been around longer than I could remember. When in doubt throw it out, right? Back then I had a productive vegetable garden, was an avid composter, and my favorite place to throw away anything organic was in the ground. It was the dead of winter in the bay area, a short rainy break between two gorgeous seasons. As I watched my hyacinths and tulips come up, I remember seeing vigorous sturdy stalks emerge. It wasn't unusual to see foreign plants sprout from the ground because I threw just about everything into the garden, and often lost track of what was in the ground. Very soon those stalks sent out beautiful white viola-like looking flowers, which eventually gave way to generous fava beans that fanned upwards much like the way bananas grow. It was an incredible surprise to me. Later on that Spring I had more fresh fava beans than I knew what to do with, and let me tell you after that season, I've become one fast moving mother shucker.
Many people think that fava beans are a laborious vegetable that yield paltry results. I might agree with the former, but whole-heartily disagree with the latter. A good simple recipe makes all the difference. This is a fun recipe that I ran into on 101 Cookbooks about a year ago, and continues to be my favorite easy peasy recipe for preparing fava beans. The directions are simple: rinse the bean pods, toss with olive oil and sea salt, and grill until charred on the outside. If you don't have a grill like me, spread the oil-coated fava beans across a baking sheet, place in the middle of the oven and turn on the broiler to high, allowing the pod to blister, roughly 4-8 minutes on each side.
Plate once charred and blistered on both sides. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice, top with shaved hard Italian cheese, chopped parsley, red pepper flakes, if desired, and sprinkle again with coarse sea salt. Pinch off and slip out the waxy sack that holds each buttery bean, and pop in your mouth one at a time. Finger licking is highly encouraged.