Springtime means fava bean time. To the uninitiated, fava bean pods look like string beans on steroids. You don’t eat the pod, you eat the inner, bright green, crispy, flavor packed bean.
These are NOT lima beans. I’ve always hated lima beans; they’re like gummy starch balls in your mouth. I also spit out chic peas for the same reason. If it’s an upscale party, I stack the chic peas on the side of my plate.
But I digress from the spring-wonderfulness of fava beans. Once shucked, you can eat them raw, just like edamame beans. Or they are outstanding paired with a soft, white cheese like Robiola or a fresh Manchego cheese.
However, there is a ‘but’ with fava beans that you need to know about. They are kind of a bitch to shuck. First, you need to remove the beans from the pod, which is no big deal, but then you have to remove the tough outer skin from the beans, leaving only the tender, inner, bright green bean. For years, I’ve steamed the pods, then shucked the beans. But that means you are fooling around with colanders, and hot steamy water that runs down the channel of the tongs and onto your arm and a mess to clean up and,,,blah, blah, blah.
Today I had a breakthrough: remove the beans from the raw pods, then pour boiling water over them. Take a sharp knife, slit the outer skin and pop out the bean. Same principle as skinning a tomato. Works like a charm.
Fava Bean & Crispy Prosciutto Risotto
1 medium carrot
1 medium stalk of celery
1 teeny peeled onion or a shallot
1 cup aborio or carnaroli rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup cleaned fava beans
4 T Robiola cheese, or fresh white Manchego
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 slice prosciutto, thinly sliced.
Finely chop the soffrito (carrot+celery+onion = soffrito) and saute in the olive oil. Add the risotto rice and saute for about a minute. Begin adding the warm chicken broth to the risotto pan, adding more broth as it is absorbed. Listen to the risotto as you putter around the kitchen. You should hear it gently simmer; if you hear sizzle...get over there and add broth ASAP!
Risotto takes about 18 minutes to cook; at the 16 minute mark, add the white wine to the pot and let the rice absorb the wine. Add any remaining chicken stock if the risotto still tastes a little underdone or dry. Keep stirring, but you knew that.
While the risotto is cooking, gently saute the prosciutto in a small pan until crispy. If there isn’t enough fat on the prosciutto add a small quantity of olive oil to the pan.
When the rice is done, turn off the heat add the fava beans and cheese and mix well until the cheese is all melted. Plate into individual, warm bowls and top with the crispy prosciutto. Eat immediately. Risotto waits for no man. But you knew that too!