Fresh Favas with Bacon & Almonds

Inspired by the bounty found at the Ferry Market in San Francisco, this savory bean spread with local olive oil, balsamic, almonds and lemon was a rare treat for this Northeast locavore.  The raves it garnered at our Saturday night dinner party suggests that it was a treat for some San Franciscans as well. The combination of flavors (fresh green beans, smoky bacon, bitter almonds, tart & brigh lemon) and textures (crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside fried fava beans, chewy bacon, crunchy nuts) made for a wonderfully complex taste; a savory, umami flavor brightened with lemon and balsamic vinegar that was hard to resist. Don’t be intimidated by the double-shuck; search out some fresh favas at your local market and make this one today!

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Fresh Favas with Bacon & Almonds

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs fresh fava beans, in the pod
  • 1/2 lb good quality bacon
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, cut to 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used white balsamic)
  • 1 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • dash or two of cayenne pepper

METHODS

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, shuck the fava beans from their pods by breaking one end of each pod and peeling the string down the center of the pod.  Split the pod down the middle and slide out the beans.  Boil the fava beans until you can see the capsule around the bright green beans start to crack, about 3 – 5 minutes.  Drain and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Peel the capsule off of each bean, and pat the favas in a clean kitchen towel to dry.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat unti fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, pouring the bacon grease through a fine sieve into a small bowl.  Lightly wipe the skillet with a paper towel (to remove any blackened bits of bacon). Once cooled, crumble the bacon into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Return bacon grease to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add fava beans and fry, stirring occasionally, until beans begin to turn golden and are crispy on the outside, about 10 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer beans to a medium bowl.
  4. Pour off all bacon grease except 1 – 2 tbsp.  Add onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until softened and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.  Add to favas.  Add remaining ingredients, mix well, taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve warm or at room temperature with crusty baguette slices or crostini.

OPTIONS

  1. If your bacon does not render enough fat, add some olive oil to the pan to just cover the fava beans for frying.
  2. I think shallots would be a great substitute for the onion (I didn’t have any on hand).
  3. While it would be a different taste, I’d be interested to try this with dried favas as well. 
  4. It’s hard to suggest a vegetarian version here; the bacon is pretty key to the flavor.  You could try frying in olive oil and adding smoked paprika to the spices; if you try a baconless option, please share in comments!

STORE

Refrigerated for up to 5 days.

SEASON

Fresh fava beans are in season in Spring: May in the Bay Area and and June in the Northeast.

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7 comments

  1. You can use them in this recipe; just thaw, pat dry, then fry in the bacon grease and follow the recipe from that point. Frozen favas are the fresh green bean, already shucked.

  2. I’m a vegetarian who likes heat … so when I read this recipe, I thought of frying the favas in olive oil with dried chipotle chiles to get a smoky, spicy flavor. Don’t know if that will work (not sure how it will go with the lemon and balsamic), but I’m willing to try it. The fava beans growing in my front yard in the SF Bay Area are about ready to pick (like you say). Thanks so much for sending this idea.

  3. Gloria,

    Sounds fabulous to me, but then I’ll never argue about chipotle. :) You could also try smoked paprika which has a distinctly bacony flavor. Let me know how it turns out!

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