These little buttons of great taste may not look like much, in fact they may not look like anything at all thanks to the poor photo (my apologies), but I was so anxious to eat them that I had to set the camera down and get to munching.
If you’re wondering what they are, they’re roasted fava beans! I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried roasted fava beans before or even heard of them but for me, roasted fava beans are a treasured childhood snack. They would often grace our table whenever we had guests. My mother would set them out along with nuts and other finger foods to be enjoyed with a glass of homemade wine.
This was before entertaining became the stylish business that it has evolved into today. I remember when a few slices of homemade sausage, some walnuts, some dried figs, some cheese and a glass of vino were the standards of entertaining in my home and in the homes of family members and friends.
While we never made roasted fava beans at home, we’d find them at our local Italian grocer. After awhile, they seemed to fall out of favour and were difficult to find. Recently, I was so happy to see them on a store shelf again. And when I came across the recipe for Roasted Fava Beans in the cookbook I’ve chosen as my Flavour of the Month, I couldn’t wait to try them.
Every time I cook with beans I always ask myself, “Why don’t I cook beans more often?” They’re so easy to make, so filling, so good for you and so satisfying! A pot of beans bubbling on the stove is as comforting as anything I can think of.
These fava beans are a delicious snack and a healthy one at that. I tried the recipe a few times and here are a few tips I picked up along the way. While fava beans can be large, you’ll often find very large dried fava beans in stores. Don’t use those. Use regular sized beans as the large ones may be too hard after roasting. Another tip I picked up is that after soaking the fava beans overnight and trimming off the black tip, I soaked the beans again for a few more hours. It helped to soften the beans even more before roasting. If, after soaking the beans twice, you come across some that are still hard, just discard them. Roasted fava beans are good, but I don’t think it’s worth breaking a few teeth over!
The original recipe calls for these to be flavoured with a bit of salt but I like my beans spicy so I hope you’ll enjoy my adaptation of a snack that’s very dear to me.
Roasted Fava Beans
Adapted from Fagioli: The Bean Cuisine of Italy by Judith Barrett.
1 cup dried fava beans
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
any spice of your choosing
Place the dried fava beans in a large bowl and cover them with water. Let the beans soak overnight or for at least 8 hours.
After the beans have soaked, drain them and rinse them. With a paring knife, remove the black tip of the bean. Place the beans back in the bowl and cover them with water again. Soak for another 2 hours.
Rinse the beans again. If you come across any that are still hard, then discard them.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the fava beans on the parchment.
Roast for about an hour, keeping an eye on the beans so that they don’t burn. The beans will be browned and crisp when they’re done.
Take them out of the oven and put them in a bowl, immediately pouring over the olive oil. Mix to coat the beans with oil and then add salt and pepper to taste along with whatever spice you like. You could try oregano, red pepper flakes or paprika!