Sunday, December 13, 2009
Full of Beans Part 2 - My Favorite Fava
I was origionally introduced to the fava, also called broad bean, maybe five years ago. At first we only used them for a most delicious hummus that was spread over freshly baked breads but over time we have been treating them more as a dried bean and really enjoy the flavor they impart as an addition to soup or simply cooked and added to a salad. A most versatile bean.
This member of the pea family is quite possibly my very favorite bean...hmm, my favorite bean is a pea of sorts, very interesting. Anyway, they are my favorite not only because of their tantalizing flavor but cold hardy and enduring nature. When all other beans are still struggling to germinate in spring's often still cold soil, favas are already well under way. They will easily tolerate frost and below freezing conditions.
Planted early enough, and if the weather is not too hot, a second late fall crop is also a possibility from a new planting or the original that has been cut back after harvest, producing an influx of new beans. We have never replanted them, but have had some success with cutting them back and being rewarded with a much smaller second crop if the weather holds long enough. Mostly, we focus on the original crop that always seems to exceed our every expectation come hell or high water. Literally, this bean has managed to provide for us not only during the hottest summers but also thrives during the cold harsh wet ones.
The mature pods can be picked for fresh beans that we use in hummus and stir frys but most are simply left to dry on the vine.
The roots themselves fix nitrogen into the garden's soil making them an excellent cover crop. Notice the little round nitrogen filled nodules on our fava roots.