Orzo with Favas and Peas

Before moving to Seattle I'd never eaten fava beans, and rarely heard anyone talk about them. Since then they seem to be becoming more and more trendy. My first summer here, I ended up at Restaurant Zoe and had the most amazing meal. The only vegetarian main course portion they serve is a seasonal risotto. Which is fine by me - they serve some of the most delicious risotto you've ever had. But on my first visit, I had the fava bean risotto which was so good that I couldn't stop eating it, even though we'd ordered way too much food and felt stuffed for hours afterward. Two and a half years later, I've finally started cooking with fava beans myself. I'm not sure how easy they are to find elesewhere in the country, apparently you can sometimes find them already shelled and frozen. But if you do see them fresh and in their pods, they're definately worth the effort.

You'll need to shell them, boil them briefly to loosen the skins, and then remove the inner pod. While you don't want to leave these for too long, you can refrigerate them for a a day or two after this is done. They're also quite tasty in spring salads or as a topping for bruschetta. They're nutty but still bright and pair well with other spring vegetables. For more information and recipe ideas with fava beans check out this article from npr.

Orzo with Favas and Peas
Serves 2

1/2 cup shelled fava beans*
3/4 cup frozen peas (or fresh if you can find them)
zest from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 cup orzo
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped mint and/or chives
sliced parmesan

*Note: For 1/2 a cup shelled beans, you'll need about 1/2-3/4 lb beans. To shell fava beans, remove beans from outer pods, bring water to a boil and cook beans for approximately 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in ice water to cool completely. Pinch out skin and gently pop out inner beans. This can be done up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Combine beans, peas, lemon, olive oil and garlic in a food processor and puslse until well combined but still slightly chunky. Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain orzo and return to pan. Mix in pea mixture and 1/2 of chopped herbs. Season to taste. Add pasta cooking water to this if necessary. Serve topped with parmesan and chopped herbs.

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