It may take a 4.4 earthquake to get you up out of bed these days, but what daylight savings time taketh away, it also giveth back to our local nighttime midweek farmers markets. It's one of the palpable signs of spring in Los Angeles. The later sunsets mean more people are out later and reconnecting with their neighbors. Another obvious sign? Fava beans.
The arrival of the fava bean providentially coincides with La Festa di San Giuseppe (March 19th), which has been celebrated in Sicily with plates of the humble bean since the Middle Ages. It was the fava bean, which requires little water to thrive, that was credited with saving a starving Sicilian populace during a long drought, staving off famine until the rains finally came. They gave the saint credit for the rain and elevated the bean to near holy status as a good luck symbol.
Fava bean pods are thick and bumpy, usually measuring around six inches long. Choose tightly-sealed, thick pods with even green color. Some enthusiasts will cook and eat young beans and pods together, but we recommend enduring the shelling process, with a quick parboil of the beans to help remove their waxy coating. The flavor is rich and buttery with an unmistakable nutty flavor. Whether you boil, puree, sauté, mash, or even braise them, the once unassuming fava bean will compliment a wide variety of other springtime market flavors, including chanterelles, green garlic, and the early summer corn that will be coming in from Coachella in a few weeks.