Ciabatta, Fava & Salmon

March 16th, 2011 / comments 2

The negozio alimentare or ‘shop of food’ closest to our apartment is the source of ciabatta. Ciabatta is a broad, flat, crusty loaf of bread. It is also the Italian word for slipper – perhaps Gepetto used his carpentry skills and two loaves of stale ciabatta to make slippers for Pinocchio.  Fresh from the market, sliced horizontally, topped with cheese, slices of tomato and a few drops of oil, it is the perfect foundation for a mid-day sandwich. When I want garlic bread, I slice it, smear it with a mixture of olive oil, minced fresh garlic, dried oregano and ground black pepper and toast it in the oven. I make “toasterless” toast by sautéing it in butter until golden.

bread honey copy Ciabatta, Fava & Salmon

Ciabatta more than three days old was too hard to eat until it had been softened. I cut it in quarter-inch chunks, added it to a green salad, poured salad dressing onto it, waited five minutes and then enjoyed it. On Monday, Italian French toast was the recipe of last resort to use the stale end of the loaf. Charles cut the ciabatta into four one-inch thick slices and put them into a single layer in a shallow baking pan. I mixed together one egg and two thirds of a cup of milk, poured it over the bread and refrigerated it for three hours while we were at the market choosing food for dinner. When we got back to our apartment, I sauteed the now very soft bread in butter over medium heat until it was golden on both sides. I put the finished pieces into the toaster oven to stay warm while I sauteed one sliced banana in a bit more butter, and made a small fruit salad with the remaining pear, a few strawberries, a teaspoon of orange blossom honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. This meal was sunny enough to counter the gray sky and chilly wind blowing in from the sea.

Our son Matthew arrived Monday evening for a three-week visit and I made dinner to welcome him. Because we had started the Italian French toast before going out, we were late getting to the market and there was less fish than usual. Angelo Cappucio, my favorite fish vendor, waved to me and showed me his last piece of salmon. Timing and friendship are everything at the market.

I bought a bunch of carrots with feathery greens, four tender-skinned new potatoes and a kilo of the fava beans that marked the arrival of spring in the market. Fava beans are in the same category of food as artichokes, corn on the cob, lobsters and crabs – when you have finished eating any of these things, the pile of debris that remains is larger than the initial serving, apparently disproving the law of Conservation of Mass. In any case, after more than an hour of shelling, blanching and husking a kilo, a bit more than two pounds, of fava beans I had 147 grams, about five ounces, of edible beans and a large bag full of inedible pods and husks.

We expected Matthew on the eight o’clock bus, so I put three thinly sliced new potatoes into a shallow baking pan, drizzling on two tablespoons of olive oil, dusted the top with dried oregano and black pepper. I put them into the toaster oven. The temperature dial on the toaster oven is in centigrade so I turned the dial to point to ‘seven o’clock’ and hoped for the best.

I simmered two thinly sliced carrots with a pinch of salt in a quarter of a cup of water. When the carrots were tender and the water nearly evaporated, I added the blanched, shelled fava beans and  a teaspoon of butter to the pan and turned off the heat.

Matthew arrived at 8:20 and after quick hellos and hugs all around I cooked the salmon while Charles and Matthew made plans over glasses of wine. Here’s how I did it: … read more

A Question – Win a Journal!

March 8th, 2011 / comments 14

What do corn on the cob, crabs, artichokes, lobster and fava beans and edamame have in common?

fava 012 A Question   Win a Journal!
Post the correct answer and you will be eligible to win a journal.

You will  find the answer in my March 16th post.  The first two people who post it will be winners and get journals when I return from Sicily.

Fava Beans with Olive Oil

February 23rd, 2010 / comments 8

Today I bought fava beans at the market. Legend has it that fava beans saved the Sicilians from famine when all other crops had failed. There is no possibility of famine in Sicily this month but since these beans that have been eaten in the eastern Mediterranean since around 6000 BC and are in season, it seemed appropriate that I try them.

 Fava Beans with Olive Oil

Some people believe that if one carries a fava bean, they will never be without the essentials of life. The name fava comes from the Latin fabe, the word that means bean. Fava beans may also be called broad beans, pigeon beans, horse beans, and Windsor beans.

V Fava beans 01 Fava Beans with Olive OilThe vegetable vendor explained with a mixture of Italian, Sicilian and sign language how to separate the beans from the pods. First, the five or six fava beans must be taken out of the pale green outer pod that looks like an overgrown green bean, and then, before it can be eaten, each bean must be stripped of the thick, tough skin that encloses it.

All of the shelling can be done by the cook, or the shelled beans can be left inside the skin, saut̩ed in olive oil with or without garlic, salt and pepper, and served Рleaving the task of popping the beans from their skins to each diner.

I opted for the easiest preparation of all. I held each pod in the fire of the kitchen cook top until I could see steam puffing out of the pod.  When I had cooked a few pods, I poured olive oil onto a small plate, ground salt and pepper into it and proceeded to pop the beans out of the pod. I put them into the oil and ate them, using my teeth to separate each bean from its wrapper.

I don’t know if it was the fava beans, the fava bean pod or something else that made me feel unsteady on my feet and my lips tingly. It took a walk, half a liter of water and a dish of gelato to set me right.

Although the fava beans had a mild and pleasing flavor, a creamy texture and were a lovely shade of green and I think I’ll give the rest of them away.

To receive an email notification of my next post, click here and subscribe to the newsletter from Carol’s Kitchen.
>> Print This Post <<

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with fava at Vermont food from a country kitchen – Carol Egbert.