As I have told you, Sicily is the land of produce....vegetables and fruit that are more delicious than you can imagine. So the purple califlower seem to be waning, but into the market appeared the adorable little fava beans. Well they are not so adorable sitting in here on my table, but I was assured by my new best friend from the market, Claudia, that the beans were just picked that morning and had a fantastic taste because of the minerals from the lava. How could I refuse?
When I asked Claudia how to prepare them, she got a worried look on her face and started to chew on her lower lip, and responded, come tu vuoi, or however you want. Then I got a worried look and she said, ok first you must peel them properly, which she showed me. You first split the pods with your finger nails, pull down a string and voila' the beans are inside.
Look how cute the little beans are inside the pod.Thank god she told me to peel them or I would have thrown the entire lot into a pot of boiling water. OK, this split them with your finger, find the string and they open like they did for her? Not happening. I could never find the string, my finger nails were getting dirty, so I gave up and used a knife.
But wait there's more. Claudia then showed me how to take them out of their pods, and then with my finger, pick off the top, then they are ready to go into the water. The purpose of the top picking became clearer once they were put into the boiling water.
Ok, so now they are out of the pods, with their little tops picked off and then they are put into boiling water for 10 minutes.
Next I was to put them in ice water...okay let me stop here. Do you know about Italy and ice? This is no small task to say put them in ice water. I go to the freezer, find teeny, tiny ice cubes made for drinks, put them in a drainer, then put the beans over the teeny, time ice cubes.
The whole point of this ice thing is to get the SECOND coat off the beans so that they are properly peeled. I mean really?
This is what the final beans looked like. They are a beautiful color of green and they do look like spring, but there weren't that many of them. There were a few more than these 4 , but not that many. Geez. So now the part comes where things went wrong, and you will just have to take my word for it because I couldn't bare to take a photo!
The recipe says put in salt, pepper, olive oil and slices of cheese. It DOES NOT talk about how much cheese and what the proportion should be. So anyway, I have a lot of cheese and so I chop it all up put it in with my 25 beans, cover the pot and forget about it. Time for dinner, I uncover the pot and it is one gooey, floppy, melted piece of cheese with tiny little beans stuck in it. INEDIBLE. After all that work. I mean really, it was another 2 and a half hours what with the shucking, the boiling, the ice making, the peeling, the chopping of the cheese and it was something even Gary said well, it was probably good an hour ago.
Luca came to check on me and believe it or not, his toy looked better than this dish.
I couldn't take a picture of it, it was too depressing and a pain in the butt to get it out of the pan.
OK Lessons learned.
1. Look for fava beans already prepared.
2. If number one is impossible, go for another vegetable.
3. If you really want to eat fava beans and you have to use fresh ones, don't put the cheese in until the beans are cooled, OR until you sit down ready to eat them.
The one bean I tasted before the horror show did taste like spring, just as Claudia told me. When she asked me the next day about the beans, I just nodded my head and asked about turnip greens.