Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fava Shoots: From Garden to Plate

Fava shoots have become popular, and I think it's a great way to get the most out of a powerhouse cool-season vegetable. Fava plants grow big and vigorously, so eating the young leaves in a saute or lightly steamed is taking good advantage of this hardy legume. I noticed that my local farmer's market had bundles of them for sale last year in the spring.

Fava Shoots Fit for High Cuisine
At the Chez TJ restaurant garden the fava beans my son and I planted last fall are now about a 3 feet high and looking lush. The funny thing is that Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher and his staff are raiding the young leaves from the tender plants for the restaurant.

Head gardener Louise Christy remarked that they might prevent flowers from forming and therefore won't get beans come springtime. But we are always happy when the kitchen garden gets used by the staff, whether it's for the restaurant or for their own meals, and we welcome creative uses of the edibles!

Pretty fava flowers attract bees in my winter garden

Simple Saute with Fava Leaves 
Pick shoots of fresh young leaves (usually found towards the top) to saute with olive oil as you would for spinach, or ask for them at your farmer's market. They taste a bit like like fresh green peas.

The flowers are also tasty in salads, but I hate picking them because that means less beans- and when it comes to favas I'm greedy!

This spring try a simple salad of  fava beans with new potatoes  

Planning for Spring Fava Harvest
In my home garden I have my usual fava plantings in both front and back yards and they are full of flowers. Fava beans love our mild winters on the SF Peninsula and I always make sure we have plenty of tender tasty beans in spring, but I think I'll go ahead enjoy a few shoots while I wait.

For fava recipes, including soup, and tips on growing them click here.
For the fava spring salad recipe, go here.

Photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke

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