Favas + Asparagus = Spring!
Fava beans are back in the markets and that means Spring! I bought a bunch at Whole Foods, as well as a bunch of asparagus, and sauteed the two with a little garlic, in perhaps a little butter, and ate them – fresh and earthy – over creamy polenta. Pure Spring comfort, eaten with a spoon.
A fine meal…just for me.
After a week of cooking for the family, even while sick, it was awfully nice to make a simple, restorative dinner for myself. I even stole a few minutes on the deck today, in the sun, the best possible medicine. (Except for codeine cough syrup, that is some miraculous stuff.)
I’m trying to remember to not just serve myself small portions, but to practice leaving at least a few bites of food on my plate. Easier when I eat alone. Once I get talking…sipping wine…waving my hands around…sassing out my opinions…I completely forget… And then my meal is gone. What did it taste like? Um…
In that case, it helps to begin with an extra-small portion.
Fava Beans & Asparagus with Polenta
Note: if you’re lucky and find fresh morel mushrooms in the market as well, include them in this saute – even better!
1 c. polenta/coarse ground corn meal
3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 lb. fava beans in their pods
1 bunch of asparagus, top halves trimmed into 1/2-inch pieces, bottom halves discarded
1 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Combine polenta, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, then turn heat to low. Simmer polenta, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, creamy, and tender, anywhere from 15-45 minutes (varies by grind). Add more water and cook longer if needed to achieve a creamy, tender consistency. When done, stir in 1 Tbsp. of butter, the Parmesan cheese, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cover and set aside to keep warm.
Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to boil. While the water heats, remove fava beans from their pods (discard pods). When the water boils, add the fava beans and cook for one minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove fava beans to a small bowl and set aside. With the water still boiling, add the asparagus and cook for one minute. Drain asparagus into a colander and quickly rinse with cold water. Set asparagus aside.
With a sharp knife, trim a little edge from each fava bean, just enough to create a small opening in the waxy coating. Gently pinch the fava beans out of their coating, into a small bowl. Discard the coating.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and softened. Add the fava beans and asparagus and stir, sprinkling lightly with a little salt, and cooking for 2-3 minutes, until heated through. Serve favas and asparagus over warm polenta. Top with a few grinds of pepper and a shower of grated Parmesan cheese.
(You will likely have leftover polenta. Spread polenta into an 8-inch square pan and chill. Cut into squares and fry in olive oil, serve alongside a poached or scrambled egg, for a fantastic breakfast or lunch.)
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