Green Garlic and Fava Wheat Berry Salad
You ever hear the saying, “when it rains – it pours”? Well, I’m afraid my whole month has been like that. Whenever I felt like I was starting to get a handle on one thing, the rug would be pulled out from underneath me and whoopsy I’m lying flat on my behind. Maybe it had something to do with the Mercury Retrograde we’ve had recently, I don’t know – but whatever it is has kept me from actually making it to the computer to… well, heck, actually it’s kept me from even getting to the CAMERA, to take pictures, to do posts. Some people have expressed concern, and I can honestly say that a lot of what we’ve been dealing with here at home isn’t really public blog material, but I’m hopeful that we’re on an upswing now, so yeah – hopefully things will be better. Apologies again for being such a lame poster lately.
While I’ve been dealing with all my crappiness, the seasons have been marching on by – it was with great pleasure that I spotted the first fresh fava beans at the Farmers Market recently. Shelling Fava beans can be a little time intensive. First you have to remove them from the big outer pods (I didn’t happen to get a picture of them this time), and then they have a second, inner shell that needs to be removed. As a first pass, I like to sit down with several pounds of pods, a big bowl, and the compost bin, in front of the Tee-Vee, and let my hands do the mindless, repetitive task while enjoying some relax-time with Mr. Man and Miss Thing. Sometimes Miss Thing will even help, if she’s feeling generous. For the second round of shelling though, I usually work in the kitchen. First, I take the shelled beans and blanch them for 1-2 minutes (depending on size and age), then drain them to an ice bath. The thin, inner shell, should pop off fairly easily at that point. A pound of Fava Beans in pod can yield a disappointingly small amount of shelled beans though, so I recommend buying atleast 1-2 more pounds than you think you’ll need. I don’t know about you, but fresh favas NEVER go to waste in our house. lol
I’ve really been enjoying the recent sun and warmer weather where we are. Since I’ve been working harder at becoming an early riser, I’ve been able to make more time to head over to the Farmers Market on the weekends, which has led me to order less from Planet Organics or Farm Fresh To You, and has sent me searching in other directions for purchasing eggs, meat and poultry. Recently I became a member of a Poultry products CSA called Soul Food Farms. They offer various chicken products, fresh eggs, and occasionally a small batch, locally produced olive oil (that I used in this salad!). The only downside is the closest pick up location is about twenty to thirty minutes away from me. Boo. It’s been really rewarding – I find myself kind of constantly poking around, looking for the new and interesting, searching for small farms and producers.
Mr. Man and I also went to a lamb butchering demo for Bay Area Bloggers, hosted by Hank Shaw of Honest Food. I found the whole experience very inspiring, and we will soon be attempting the process ourselves, probably with a pig. Not only did we both learn a lot about butchering, Hank’s home-made artichoke hearts were a revelation, and I made some new friends with other bloggers, including Stephanie of Wasabimon!, Luna Raven of Luna’s Kitchen, Jennifer of Foodbat, Biggie of Lunch in a Box, Heather of Heather in SF, Holly of NorCal Cazadora, and Anne of SF Tao of Pao. I also briefly met Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes, who showed up towards the end of the event. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many talented people that I’ve admired for so long. Hopefully, Hank will do more classes in the future.
As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve been working on incorporating whole grains in to my diet. Whole grains are a great part of any healthy diet, and we were already using them frequently, but as I’ve been trying to lose weight they became especially important. They can be a really great alternative to starchy sides, and pack a great nutritional punch. For me, I have been trying to make everything I put in my body count – ie, no more empty calories, so I’ve been using alternative grains in place of white rice, white flour or potatoes. So when I saw local Wheat Berries from Massa Organics at a recent trip to the farmers market, of course I had to pick some up. Although they look similar to rice, wheat berries are very different in terms of flavor and texture. They are nuttier, with an even chewier texture than is typical in brown rice, and they tend to be much looser and less starchy, making them perfect for grain based salads or as a last minute addition to a soup. Unlike rice though, you want to cook them in extra liquid, similar to beans – I typically use a 4:1 ratio of Liquid to Wheat Berries, and then drain when at desired level of tenderness.
If you’re lucky enough to find it – some Green Garlic is also a great addition to soups and salads. It’s one of my favorite spring harbingers, sweeter and milder than it’s older bulbous brother, I typically use Green Garlic anywhere and everywhere that I would normally use Green Onions. Every time I’ve gone to the farmers market recently, I’ve picked up a bunch or two – sometimes adding to a saute, but usually just sliced and served raw.
- 1 cup whole Wheat Berries
- 4 cups Stock or Water (I used 2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups water)
- 2 cups Blanched and Shelled Fava Beans
- 1 Stalk Green Garlic; bulb and tender greens, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup Feta Cheese; crumbled
- 2 tbs Fresh Italian Parsley; finely chopped
- 2 tbs Fine Quality Olive Oil (or to taste)
- 4 tbs White Wine Vinegar (or to taste)
- Kosher Salt (to taste)
- Rinse and pick over Wheat Berries to remove any dirt or debris
- Place in a Heavy pot with a tight fitting lid (recommend: Dutch Oven)
- Add the Stock/Water and a generous pinch or two of Kosher Salt.
- Cover and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until tender (appx 45-60 minutes), adding more liquid as neccessary
- Drain and allow to cool to room temperature
- Stir together the drained Wheat Berries with remaining ingredients, adjust Salt, Vinegar and Olive Oil to taste
- Serve at room temperature
Other Fava Bean recipes by Delementals:
Other Green Garlic recipes by Delementals: