Tonight I am having my first dinner party in my new apartment – yay and yay! I decided to get crazy and put some labor into making a side dish of fava beans. They are so simple and very in season right now. The worst part? Peeling the beans out of their shell. That’s when I thought (not like slave labor), that it would be really fun to have a kid help me shell beans and teach your child/niece/nephew/grandchild the inner workings of a bean! So it will be a tasty snack and neat to see what the inside of a bean looks like for kids!
Fava beans have a brief season and are the national food of Egypt. I mentioned that favas are a labor of love, and here’s why: Fava beans come in a rather large pod (6 inches or so), which only contains about 3-4 beans per pod. They must be removed from the pod (not as simple as shelling peas), blanched, and then shelled again – favas have a secondary husk, which must be removed before eating. But! Without further ado, here’s a little tutorial. I hope it makes sense without pictures.
Fava Beans with Olive Oil and Parmesan
– Serves 2 as a little snack
- 1 pound fava bean pods
- Favas removed from pods (further description of husking follows; removing them from the pods should be self-explanatory)
- Really good extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Good Parmesan
Place the favas in boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Rinse in cold water and begin the second shelling. Of course, as with all tedious things, there’s an easy way: (for a right-handed person) take the fava bean in your left hand, between thumb and forefinger, “belly” (hollow, scooped out side) up, with the sprout end (sometimes has a black striped) towards your right hand. With your right hand, hold a small paring knife perpendicular to the bean, cut horizontally across the sprout end, making a tiny slit. Squeeze the bean out of the husk; it should pop right out. Repeat, ad nauseum, remembering the whole time how delicious favas are and how much you are going to enjoy them.
Bring another pot of water to a boil and salt liberally. Add the husked beans and boil for another 2 minutes. Rinse the beans lightly in cold water and
drain well. Place on plates and drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add just a few tiny grates of Parmesan.
Eat, savoring bean by bean, enjoying the fruits of your labor.
How to Grow Beans with your Kids @ Home in a Jar:
- Fill the cup with 2 inches of water
- Drop the two beans in the cup of water
- Leave the beans to soak overnight
- The following day, drain/empty the water from cup and take the beans out of the cup
- Fill the test tubes just over half way with the potting soil and place each bean inside the test tubes and fill the jar with more soil
- Place the test tubes in a well light and warm spot and be sure to water them every day.
- Watch the beans. They will begin to swell, then split. Then a small root will grow out of the bottom of the bean, reaching for the bottom of the jar. Soon, a small shoot will grow out of the top of the bean, reaching towards the top of the jar. When the temperature outside is warm enough, transfer the plants to your outside garden.
- Keep a close watch each day as you will be able to see how quickly the plants will grow.
- Have your children write a report, keep charts or color pictures–whatever they can do–to record this experiment.
Note: Use a jar, clear plastic cups or a clear plastic container and plant the beans by the sides of the container so that you can watch the beans grow by looking through the clear container.
Did you know that plants need water to live? As well as absorbing water from the atmosphere (air) through their leaves, they suck water up through their stems.