GC#23 – Fava Beans and Artichokes with Spring Onions and Garlic

 The last of the fava beans appeared this week at my CSA along with baby spring onions and fresh garlic. This is another week where I’m going to be seasonally relevant. The first spring artichokes also arrived from California, and as it turns out, according to Martha Rose Shulman writing in the New York Times, these spring vegetables are all used together in a Greek olive oil dish. Schulman substitutes water for most of the olive oil. I couldn’t find baby artichokes, so I substituted the hearts and stems of large artichokes. Fava beans are new for me. I’ve never bothered with them before. I’d heard that they were a lot of work to prepare, but worth the effort.

Fava Beans have to be twice shelled. First you have to take the individual beans out of the pod, then you have to shell each been. That’s not as difficult as it may seem. Here’s how. Bring a generous amount of salt water to a boil and prepare a bowl full of ice water. Boil the shelled beans for 5 min. Drain them and immediately plunge then into the cold water. After three or 4 minutes, drain the beans and the skins will slip off rather easily when you squeeze one end.

Ingredients for Fava Beans with Artichokes
12 baby artichokes. Or hearts and stems of six large artichokes.
2 lemons
¼ cup olive oil
1 bunch spring onions chopped
2 large heads of fresh garlic chopped
3 pounds fresh fava beans shelled and skinned
1 small fennel bulb chopped

Preparation for fava beans with artichoke
Trim the baby artichokes.
Cut them in half and immediately submerge them in the bowl of cold water and the juice from one half of a lemon. Or trim the large artichokes, cut off the leaves, trim back the fibrous exterior the stems, scrape our of fuzz in the center and cut into quarter inch slices.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy casserole or saucepan.
Add the onion and cook stirring until tender about 5 min
Add the garlic and the fennel and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Add more olive oil if needed and the juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons).
Add the artichokes and enough water to barely cover.
Simmer for about 20 minutes or less if you’re using the hearts. You want the vegetables tender but not overcooked.
Turn the heat up high, reduce the liquid by about a third and stir in a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.
Taste and add salt as needed serve warm.
Note this is even better as a leftover as the flavors meld together.

Here is a fun link that you really enjoy checking out. It was put together by a man named Matthew Latkiewicz, and it’s a tongue-in-cheek method of selecting wine by the labels on the bottles.
5 min://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/06/sloshed_maybe_we_should_be_jud.html

Matthew Latkiewicz works for the Internet; he writes and podcasts about drinking and other subjects at You Will Not Believe. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Wired, Time.com, Boing Boing, and Gastronomica. Tragically, his wifelike girlfriend is allergic to wine.

One final note on the question of alternatives to industrial farming. Several people mentioned the desirability of changing food subsidies. “We need subsidies for real food–not soybeans and corn for commercial cattle operations–as a national security measure. After all, a country that can’t feed itself locally is in real trouble if a crisis occurs. We also need healthier school lunches.” See http://www.pcrm.org/health/agriculture/agricultural.html

“While agribusiness will fight the shift tooth and nail, the solution is to phase out commodity subsidies in favor of support for fruits and vegetables and a limited number of sustainable animal products. Using Dept, of Ag money, working through county extension offices, to help set up farm-to-school arrangements and farm-to-consumer networks like the Locally Grown networks could be one way. I love the idea of converting old big-box stores. We also need to open stores with fresh produce in inner cities, where C-stores dominate now, but that too will require a subsidy.” See http://www.farmtoschool.org/publications.php

About Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch is a journalist and filmmaker who is now teaching at Montgomery Community College
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