A couple of years ago I gave up on fava beans. Don’t get me wrong, I love the things, even without the usual accompaniments (cue Silence of the Lambs joke), and I will eagerly order them from a restaurant menu.
But the shelling, my god, the shelling. First you take the beans out of the pods. (Once, while doing this, I opened a pod and found no beans but a huge green caterpillar. This probably contributed to my inclination to leave fava beans to the experts.) Then you blanch the beans and peel each individual bean. Then you cook them again and hope that you got good ones, rather than bland, overgrown ones. It’s not a bean, it’s a psych experiment. I failed.
After my breakup with favas, I took up with a new bean. It’s called the cranberry bean, or sometimes just a shelling or shell bean. It’s extremely easy to shell–just zip the shell off and there’s nothing else to peel. The beans inside are lovely and speckled, although the color fades to gray when you cook them.
The taste is nothing like favas–it’s like pinto beans, but more so. And they’re done in twenty or thirty minutes instead of two hours. You can boil them up and dress them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and you’re set, or use them however you’d use cooked dried beans.
And they’re only available at farmers markets. Sorry if I sound like an ad for the farmers market junta lately; it’s a seasonal ailment that wears off around November, at which point I start pining for the return of the farmers market.