It’s our understanding that we should all be eating more cover crops; it gives farmers a small boost for improving their soil. Turns out, eating cover crops is also a very tasty thing to do. Fresh favas are only available in springtime, but they work wonders for our tilth. Preparing them takes a bit of work—with their shelling and blanching and peeling—but they’re worth it for their slippery cool chew that wakes our springtime palates. There is nothing more elegant than this creamy purée on grilled bread for a late spring nibble. If you can’t find them fresh, substitute frozen lima beans or edamame. Or buy some of the dried fava varieties that are coming to market.
Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like the sea. Dunk the shelled favas into the boiling water for 2 minutes, then quickly remove them and plunge into the ice water. Now throw the 2 garlic cloves into the water for 1 minute, then remove and set aside without dunking. Reserve about ¼ to ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
Next, carefully make a slit in each fava with your fingernail and remove the tough outer skin. The brighty-colored, pauchy little bean should just roll out like it was waiting there for you all along. When you have removed all the tough skins, you should have a bowl bursting with emerald green.
If you’re using dried beans, soak overnight and cook according to these instructions.
Add the shelled beans to a food processor or a large bowl. Now, peel the 2 blanched garlic cloves and add those, too. Pulse the beans, garlic, lemon juice, feta cheese, olive oil, oregano, and ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Give it a few pulses. Scrape down the sides and purée the mixture until it’s smooth and creamy. You may need to add a little more liquid, but just use your best judgment. Adjust the seasonings and add salt & pepper to taste. You can, of course, mash these in a bowl if you don’t have a food processor or just don’t feel like hauling it out.
This will keep in the fridge for several days. Alternately, you could freeze it for about a month.
In my household, we often eat this purèe tucked between these pita pockets.
Savor with the delight of knowing you are a bigger part of this food chain than you ever realized. Have gratitude for healthy soil and know that in reality, you, too, are a soil, of sorts. Make sure you mulch your life with what you that which you want to become part of.