Fava Bean, Almond, and Mint Pesto

I think this is one of the best things I’ve ever made.  It tastes amazing, comes together in less than ten minutes, and the exotic name makes it the perfect dish to show off at your next picnic.  I created this recipe after receiving some fava beans from Alicia with the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture (http://www.kccua.org/).  I volunteered to create fresh, seasonal recipes that they could send out with their CSA baskets.  I am now very nervous, this recipe will definitely be hard to top!  Fava beans are one of those foods that I have always been interested in, but have never cooked with.  I was intimidated by the whole “blanching” and “double shelling” aspect.  I did some sleuthing and noticed that every recipe using fava beans included mint.  Some used lemon, and some used cheese, but they were almost all some sort of puree.  I decided to create a pesto.  Instead of the traditional pine nuts, I decided I wanted to use some raw almonds (not sure why, but it worked).  I also threw in a pinch of crushed red pepper to add an underlying essence of heat.  Let me tell you, the results were awesome.  I had planned on trying it with pasta (thinned with a couple tablespoons of the cooking water), or stirring it into a risotto. However, Darren, the girls, and I downed the entire batch within 30 minutes of him getting home from work. (Oops!) I sure hope we can get more! 

My fava bean and mint pesto is also a great recipe to involve your kids in.  Annie loved helping me shell the beans, measuring out the ingredients, and pressing the button on the mini food processor.  It was so sweet to see how proud she was when Daddy couldn’t stop raving about “her” dip.  Hurray for another great way to get your kids excited about eating and creating healthy, flavorful food!

If you’ve never worked with fava beans, there are a few things you need to know.  (I’m glad that I researched them or I would have been very confused!)  The first thing you need to do is remove the bean from the pod.  I used a pairing knife to slice the pod lengthwise. Next, you need to blanch the beans.  In a small saucepan, bring about an inch of water just to a boil.  Throw the beans into the pot and let them simmer/boil for about 3 minutes.  Drain beans and rinse with cool water.  You can now peel the white “waxy” layer away from the bright green bean.  (You will understand when you are doing it.) That’s it.  You are now ready to throw the beans into the food processor with the other ingredients!

Ingredients (Makes about 1 1/2 cups):
Fava beans, 1 cup, shelled, blanched, and shelled again, from about 18 – 20 pods
Fresh mint, 1/4 – 1/3 cup, leaves only, loosely packed
Raw almonds, 2 tbsp + garnish, if desired
Parmesan-reggiano, 1/4 cup
Lemon, zest of 1 and juice of 1/2, or more if it is not a particularly juicy one
Sea salt, 1/2 tsp
Fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp
Crushed red pepper, 1/4 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
Filtered water, 1 tbsp

Instructions (5 minutes):  Place all ingredients in a mini food processor.  Blend for two minutes or until pesto has reached a smooth, creamy texture.  If the pesto is too thick, add an additional teaspoon or two of water.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with additional crushed almonds, and serve with whole wheat pita chips, crudites, or your favorite cracker.

Notes:  This dish is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free.  Those with nut allergies can substitute sunflower seeds for the almonds.  This fava bean, almond, and mint pesto can be made up to three days ahead when kept properly refrigerated (if making in advance, be sure you have plenty of willpower, or make a double batch for yourself). 

Substitutions:  Fava beans are just coming into season.  I called my local Whole Foods and they expect to be getting their first shipment tomorrow.  When I called Hy-Vee (our local grocer), they didn’t expect their first shipment until 4th of July.  Hopefully, your local farmers market will have them available this week!  However, if you cannot find fava beans and you still want to try this phenomenal dip, I suggest using fresh or frozen peas instead.  (Ok, because I had all of the ingredients on hand, I decided to try this before posting.  While not as insanely amazing as the fava beans, peas make a pretty darn good substitution.  To achieve the right consistancy, omit the water and add an extra 2 tbsp of almonds.)  Happy eating!

Does this sound delicious?  You may also enjoy…
Pozole Verde
Bacon, Corn and Shrimp Risotto (Starring…Quinoa!)
Irish Soda Bread
Kale Chips (Seriously!)

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Comments

  1. Lee Finnegan says:

    Sounds wonderful! Katie, I'm wondering if frozen fava beans are available.

  2. So excited to try this!!! yum!

  3. Lee- I've tried to post a comment twice now and it is not working. Silly technology! Anyways, I don't recall ever seeing frozen fava beans (that doesn't mean they don't exist). If I were you, I would check Whole Foods for fresh ones. Another alternative I thought of was to use frozen lima beans (simmered according to package directions). I think that would actually work better than my pea selection.

    Aly- Thanks ma'am! You will gobble it up! I think even your non-exotic family members will love this one!

  4. I love fava beans! Looks delicious. Thanks for your comment on my site- hope to meet you at IFBC… it's such a fabulous conference to attend!

  5. Yum! Looks so fresh tasting!

  6. Lori – Thanks, it is amazing! (Don't you love when you create something that you're even impressed by!) I picked up another batch of fava beans at Whole Foods today because I couldn't wait til Wednesday for the farmer's market! IBFC sounds fabulous– I really hope I can go!

    What are your three favorite (healthy-ish, seasonal) recipes on your blogs? I would love to get to know some of you better by tasting the food you love before we actually get to meet!

  7. Anne- Thanks! I have your fruit leathers in the oven right now. I did organic strawberry-peach. Just out of curiousity, do you know what the shelf life on these are? If they are a success, I would love to make big batches when fruit goes on sale!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Katie,

    It was a pleasure to meet you at Whole Foods the other day. I love what your blog is all about and will be looking through for recipes to try. I'll also pass your blog info on to our Cooking Studio director who does a lot with new recipes and the community.

    Way to be!

  9. Lol…”anonymous”, thank you. I am assuming you are my newly converted kale lover (and kale sharer!). Thank you so much for passing my info along. I would love to get more involved in K.C.'s local community. It is great to finally be back “home”. Happy eating, and please feel free to email me at healthnutfoodie@gmail.com!

  10. I need to try this Pesto. Sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

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