Every year I grow at least one totally new thing. It's usually something I've never even EATEN before, much less grown and cooked. Somehow the idea of raising something from seed makes it that much more appetizing, as opposed to seeing it in the produce department of a supermarket.
A few years ago the new thing was kale, and I'll be growing it for the rest of my life. Love it! Last year it was Chinese cabbage. Um.....good, but not something I ever need to do again. This year, don't ask me why, but I was fixated on fava beans. I had actually gone looking for a good cold weather crop last fall and stumbled across the fava, but then was advised under no uncertain terms by every article I read about them that they HAD to be planted early in the spring. Oh darn. I hate waiting!
At least I got to plant them really early. Honestly, the seeds were in the ground in late February. It took them a while to get started, but once they did it was fascinating to watch them. The plants are unlike any other bean plant I've cultivated. I get questions about them from visitors and random passers-by all the time, wondering what on earth those odd looking things are.
Now the kicker came.....I researched cooking the little darlings. Honestly, there should be a disclaimer on every Fava bean seed packet that they are the most high-maintenance vegetable on the face of the planet. I'm not quite sure why we let them live. As I was reading about how to prepare them it was actually suggested that, since they're a great "green fertilizer" (a plant that helps the soil when you grow it and then immediately dig it into the dirt) gardeners should grow Favas just for that purpose.
Here's what I'm talking about. OK, so first you pick the pods. And make sure they're big enough! because the first time I picked I picked too early, and the seeds were wicked small and all that ensued became way too much work for the result.
OK, so the pods. Hmmmmmm......they don't split open easily, you sometimes have to run a sharp knife down the seam to get it to separate. Then the seeds are in there, but there's also this spongy inside stuff that you have to get past in order to get the seeds out. So you have the seeds. Nice. Now you have to plunge them into boiling water, let them cook for a minute or two, drain them, and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Then (and I couldn't make this up) you have to PEEL EACH SEED. Seriously. As I said, I'm not sure why we let them live......
Then I cooked them, sauteed in a little butter and olive oil with just a hint of garlic, salt, and pepper. And I forgave them all my trouble. Almost. The jury is still out on whether they'll be back next year!