Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wonder Woman strikes again

If you've been reading for a while you are well acquainted with my admiration for one LA chef named Suzanne Goin. My friend Kate was having lunch at Tavern last week and texted me she was having a celebrity siting--it was Suzanne. In our decade plus years of knowing each other and living in this star-studded city neither one of us has ever texted about seeing someone famous. Our fanship clearly runs deep and now I just refer to SG as Wonder Woman.

It's been fava bean time here in So Cal. Fava beans are so celebrated by me that I almost wanted to do a maypole dance at the start of this month since spring means these tender greenies. All across the city menus are sporting them; I guess they're kind of trendy. I care not. So are platform wedges and you know how much I love those. I first made favas in my pre-Sky days for my friend Juliana's birthday---made a spring vegetable stew with guanciale (translate: pork jowl. yup.). It was my first attempt at cooking with them--previously I'd only heard of them when Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter talks about eating a victim with favas and a fine Chianti.....I still remember that meal (mine not Hannibal's) and favas have only thrilled, never disappointed. As the cook in a now-vegetarian-household I am floating in a sea of possibilities with favas. Sweet little things.

I first had this recipe when I worked at Campanile. I didn't know what had hit me. It was a heavenly food: ultra-delicious, a very fashionable color, and from what I could tell it was healthy too. I have tried over the years to make my own version and it's been good but never great. I was making it like I'd make hummus since that's what I thought it kind of was. I'd blanch the beans then puree them with olive oil and garlic and maybe some herbs. The texture was hummusy not velvety and the flavors were clearly differentiated rather than melded together in alchemical sumptuousness.

Then I got my paws on that cookbook I told you about and the riddle is solved. Wonder Woman has her recipe for Fava Bean Puree on page 68 and I made it last night.
(That's it in the middle with the olives and feta that will go on top of it).
Served it with a ginormous green salad with shaved radish, English cucumber, avo, roasted beets, some leftover quinoa and a red wine vinaigrette. Spring on a plate.

Fava Bean Puree with Oil-Cured Olives, French Feta, and Garlic Toasts
from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin

*In this recipe the favas are shelled and blanched while other stuff cooks. I shelled, blanched, and skinned the favas in the afternoon and left them waiting for me til the evening when I made dinner. Worked great.

1 baguette (I used some La Brea bakery multigrain bread I had around--not as French but totally yummy)
1 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 lbs favas in the pod
1 sprig rosemary (I didn't have any and used oregano)
1 chile de arbol, crumbled (again, didn't have and used a random dried chile I did have---kinda spicy in certain bites--you decide)
1/2 lemon for juicing
1/2 c pitted oil-cured black olives cut in half
1/4 cup sliced flat-leaf parsley
1/4 lb French (or not) feta
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375
Cut the bread on the diagonal into 1/4 in slices. Brush both sides with olive oil. Arrange on baking sheet and toast 10-12 minutes until golden but still tender in the middle. While toasts are warm, rub with a garlic clove.
Mince remaining garlic clove
Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile remove beans from pods
Blanch beans for 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and cool them in ice water, then slip them out of their skins.
Heat medium saucepan on low heat. Add remaining olive oil, the rosemary, and the chile. Let them sizzle for a minute or so, then stir in minced garlic. Sizzle for another minute then stir in the favas, a little salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Simmer beans 5-7 minutes or til tender. Strain beans, reserving oil; discard rosemary and chile
Transfer beans to food processor and puree. With motor running, slowly pour in half of reserved oil until the puree is velvety smooth (MMMMMM). Once you're there, pour in more reserved oil to taste. Squeeze in some lemon and taste for seasoning.
In a small bowl toss olives and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Crumble in feta and mix gently.
Spoon warm puree onto a platter. Place grilled toasts around and scatter feta-olive mixture over the puree

No good pic (iphone how could you disappoint me?) of finished result but take me on faith here.
We pretty much licked the plate clean.
See previous post for another thing you can do with favas that will take you about 15 minutes to prepare.

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