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First things first: I’ve started a little recipe collection here (a link is to the right, as well) that’s pretty slim at the moment, but will grow in time! Just like all those summer gardens …

Which leads me to second things second: fava beans.

When I took Michael to Millennium for his birthday, we had an appetizer of fava beans on whole grain bread (I think?) with pea shoots and endive. It was delicious: fresh, lightly cooked and tossed in olive oil, and all the vegetables were perfectly tender. I’ve been wanting to try making favas myself, though I haven’t really had the opportunity.

But Tuesday’s surprise trip to the farmer’s market reminded me to buy some and experiment. I decided to make a simple pasta dish with roasted tomato sauce, leftover vegan sausage, mushrooms — and favas.

The first fun thing about favas is that you get to de-pod them not once, but twice. The initial de-podding is the most interesting, I think, because the seeds are couched in a rather ugly, lumpy casing (see above), but inside, the pod is very soft and velvety. The beans themselves need to be boiled for a couple of minutes in salted water, and then placed in an ice bath before being slipped from their skins. It seems like a lot of work, but like many cooking-related activities (pitting cherries by hand, anyone?) it is soothing, almost meditative. And the end result is, undoubtedly, worth the extra effort.

{Favas, shelled, and ready for use]

Next time, I’d like to use them in a salad, or even just tangled up with a bit of pasta dressed with olive oil and salt and pepper. The dish I made the other night was delicious, but the favas were unfortunately a bit overshadowed by all the other ingredients warring for attention. As always, for me, simplicity is best.

[Tuesday dinner, June 2007]

Pasta with Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Vegan Sausage, and Fava beans
, inspired by a recipe on smitten kitchen

1/2-pound angel hair pasta, broken into 2-inch pieces
2 sundried-tomato faux sausages (or whatever you like), sliced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 medium tomatoes
bunch fava beans, shelled, blanched, and ready for use
2 cups vegetable broth or water

Roast the tomatoes on 400 F for about 15 minutes until skins are slightly blackened. In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, garlic, and onion puree until combined. In a large pot, pour in about a 1/4-cup of olive oil and heat until very hot. Add the pasta, and cook over medium heat until it browns slightly, stirring constantly. Add the tomato puree and cook a few minutes, stirring often. Add the vegetable broth or water and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is soft.

In a frying pan, saute the mushrooms in olive oil and a splash of red wine (if you have one open, or — who am I kidding? — just open one). Add the faux sausage and cook about a minute.

When the pasta is cooked thoroughly, add the mushrooms, sausage, and favas, stirring and tossing to combine well. Add fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste.

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