There is something rather zen about the art of preparing fresh fava beans. It's not hard to slip into a contemplative mood as you carefully extract the beans from their soft cushioned pods and into a bowl.
Then, once you've cooked your favas, you can once again contemplate the meaning of life, the universe and everything as you gently peel off the tough outer layer that surrounds each bean to reveal the bright green gems that lie within. Those who are more poetically inclined that I would probably find a dozen metaphors within the process that they can contemplate thoroughly as they shell and peel... me, I just spend the time thinking about how wonderful my favas will taste with a simple Italian-style treatment of lemon juice, olive oil, mint and sweet onion to play off their ever-so-slightly bitter flavour.
Fava Bean Salad with Marinated Lamb Chops
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
8 lamb chops, preferably loin or rib
3 cups shelled fresh fava beans (~3lbs unshelled)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 medium red onion, chopped
½ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large Ziploc bag or shallow dish, mix together balsamic, olive oil, honey, garlic, cumin, pepper and mint. Add lamb chops, turning to coat. Seal bag (or cover dish with plastic wrap) and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours.
In a large pot of boiling unsalted water, cook shelled fava beans until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat a lightly oiled grill to medium-high. Remove lamb from marinade and grill, turning once, approximately 3-4 minutes per side (this will get your chops to medium-rare... if you prefer your meat somewhere between medium and well-done, aim for 2-3 minutes longer per side). Transfer to a platter and cover with aluminum foil.
By now, favas should be cool enough to handle; carefully remove the tough skin from each bean.
In a medium bowl, toss peeled favas with olive oil, lemon, onion and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with grilled lamb chops and a loaf of good crusty bread to mop up your plate when done.
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