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Celebrate summer with favas, fennel

Jul 1st, 2018 | Category: Cooking

by Rio Thomas

Summer is officially here, and along with it comes an abundance of fresh local produce to celebrate with. The parade of berries continues this month with raspberries and blueberries joining the mix, and other long awaited summer favorites make their appearance.

In our garden, the favas are ripe, so I pull out my repertoire of recipes that showcase them. Lots of people seem daunted by the extra time they take to prepare, but I really enjoy the annual ritual of opening their spongy pods, extracting those satisfyingly substantial beans and watching the pile grow in my bowl, along with the anticipation of their bright fresh flavor.

Favas, before and after shelling. PHOTO BY RIO THOMAS

Favas, before and after shelling. PHOTO BY RIO THOMAS

Shelling beans is for me, a quintessential summer activity, always done outside, usually in a shady spot, accompanied by birdsong, with an iced coffee, or, if it’s closer to dinner, a cold beer or other refreshing beverage. I love to imagine the generations of folks who have gone before us, gathering on the porch to visit and work together in the preparation of food grown just over yonder.

So take your basket of favas outside, and allow yourself the pleasure of what could also become one of your annual summer rituals. At some point mid way through the shelling, I go inside to the kitchen and put on a pot of water to boil, for there is a second shelling that requires blanching for a couple of minutes to loosen the skins. Once all of your favas are shelled, bring them inside, and fill a large bowl with ice cold water, and set it aside (for cooling down your blanched /drained beans.) Generously salt your boiling water, then dump your bowlful of favas in and give them a stir, and blanch for about 2 minutes. Pour the beans into a colander to drain, then into the reserved bowl of ice water to stop cooking and cool them off.

Now they’re ready for the final shelling which involves simply squeezing them out of their casing; be forewarned, they sometimes take flight in the process!

Favas make an awesome topping for bruschetta, their bright green color is a beautiful protein boost for summer salads, and they really shine with the addition of good olive oil, lemon juice and salt. If you don’t want to take the time to shell favas yourself, you can just soak the pods for a bit in well salted water, then throw them on the grill, and have everyone shell their own! Grill til charred, then enjoy!

Finale fennel. PHOTO BY RIO THOMAS

Finale fennel. PHOTO BY RIO THOMAS

Here’s a recipe that includes both favas and fennel, which is also making an appearance in our garden now, and through the fall. If you’re looking for productive and delicious varieties, I grow both Aquadulce and Frog Island Nation (purple!) favas, with lots of extra for the freezer so that I can enjoy them all year long. For fennel, Finale is my pick!

Rio Thomas is unabashedly obsessed with garden and farm grown food. She’s worked on several farms over the past two decades in Whatcom County, is the founder of Small Potatoes Gleaning Project, as well as growing much of her family’s own food for over 25 years. See her website www.seasonsgleanings.com.

Burrata with Fava Beans, Fennel, and Celery



3 lbs fresh fava beans, shelled

1 small shallot, finely diced

3 Tbs lemon juice

Salt and pepper

1/4 c fruity extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c celery(tender inner stalks)

2/3 c thinly sliced fennel

a handful of small arugula

8 oz burrata

mint or basil for garnish



See article above for fava preparation. They can be prepared a day or two ahead of time.

Make the dressing: Put diced shallot in a small bowl and cover with lemon juice. Add a good pinch of salt and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in olive oil.

Place fava beans, celery and fennel in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add dressing and toss well.

Place burrata in the center of a platter. Arrange arugula leaves at edges of platter. Spoon fava bean mixture and dressing over and around burrata. Garnish with roughly chopped mint or torn basil leaves and serve immediately.

Recipe shared from David Tanis at cooking.nytimes.com.


Bibim Guksu aka Korean Chilled Noodles


When the days are hot, and you want food that’s quick, easy to pack along for lunches, a picnic, or for dinner that you can make ahead and eat cold after a busy day of summer activities, I highly recommend this version of a cold noodle salad. Any seasonal veggies work here, so feel free to be creative and use what you’ve got on hand, or whatever irresistible bounty you’ve brought home. I really like to add some crunchy snow peas, or snap peas. This recipe makes enough sauce for 2 salads, in my opinion. Soba noodles also work well here, but if you haven’t tried them yet, it’s worth a stop by Whole Foods to get some Umi ramen noodles, (made in Portland!) So good!

Makes 3 servings



1 package (12 ounces) Umi Organic ramen noodles

4 tablespoons gochu jang (Korean red chili paste)

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Choose from assorted toppings:

Hard or soft boiled eggs, cut in half

Lettuce, thinly sliced

Radishes, thinly sliced

Cabbage, thinly sliced

Cucumber, julienned

Carrot, julienned

Asian pear, julienned

Green onions, thinly sliced

Cilantro, minced

Shiso leaves, thinly sliced

Kimchi, sliced



1. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. While the water is heating, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, combine gochu jang, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Stir to combine and set aside. Prep toppings as desired.

2. Once the water is boiling, gently tease apart the noodles. Add noodles to water and boil 2 minutes, stirring often. Drain, rinse under cold water in a strainer with several ice cubes until thoroughly chilled, and then shake out excess water. If you’re going to cook the noodles in advance, toss with oil after cooking to prevent sticking until ready to use.

3. To serve, place chilled noodles in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Divide between bowls. Garnish with toppings of your choice.


Recipe from www.umiorganic.com


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