June 11, 2011

Fava Beans, Small Potatoes and Onion

Fava Beans, Small Potatoes and Onion


I felt steady. And quiet.

The beans felt cool after a quick rinse. I bit into one and turned to monitor the pan warming on the stove. First, fava beans. Just enough to fit into the palm of my hands. I heard the faintest of sizzles and realized quickly that I would need a damp dishrag to keep the gently wafting spray in check on the surrounding surfaces.

He always says that he works clean. He does work clean. It's an inspiration.

With the pan sitting on the lowest of flames I fumbled with the plastic container holding what was once again just enough to fit into the palm of my hands. Tiny red potatoes in need of a quick peel. Fumbling a bit, I scraped away at their tiny nubs and scars. Leaving behind just enough skin so that there was no question as to the variety.

I rolled the potatoes between my hands under a gentle stream of cold water and gave them brief retirement to a single paper towel. Halves? No. Slices. Yes.

After I had finished slicing each small potato into quarter inch wide medallions I carried them over to the pan of fava beans. Not one broke free from my grasp and I considered this a great triumph. Clumsiness would reveal itself later in some other form, surely. I took a deep breath.

Onion. I jerked open the crisper. The onions trembled. The shallots bounced. I pulled a medium red onion from the drawer and slid the crisper shut, gingerly.

Half would do for now. I sliced quickly and with cupped hands, carried the fragrant and sweetly intoxicating onion to the pan.

I wish we had a lid.

I suddenly felt emboldened. I will do what he would do.

I retrieved a stainless steel pan of equal size, flipped it over and placed it on top of the pan.

There was nothing left to do but survey the kitchen. I was working clean. After wiping down the stove once more I rinsed the dishrag and set out to wash the cutting board, knife and strainer. Once that was done I dried my hands thoroughly, for there is nothing more annoying than salt sticking to damp fingers, and I was at the point where I needed to salt and pepper the pan of fava beans, small potatoes and onion.

I lifted the makeshift lid and found myself suddenly swathed in the most aromatic of steams. Slowly, I flipped the lid and allowed the water to stream back into the pan. Salt. Pepper. Flip. Flip. Stir. Flip.

The onions were caramelizing nicely. The potatoes were slowly yielding. The fava beans were browning. Some stripped of their crispy skins. Others only half dressed. And yet others lay entirely cloaked.

I speared a bean with a fork and then attempted to blow of some off the heat with anxious breath. Here goes. Crispy. Salty. Delicate. I allowed myself to breath. I may have even cracked a smile.


  1. I'm a notoriously messy cook. It's lovely when I have someone around as a sous-chef to follow behind me cleaning up. Otherwise it always looks like i've used every pan and dish in the kitchen just to make one meal.
    Your writing is really wonderful.

  2. Since your last post I have been waiting...patiently... for these photos. I wasn't sure that they would appear, but I hoped. So perfect, so inspiring.

  3. This looks lovely, so very tempting with the oily crispness. But where is he?

  4. I'm an undisciplined cook, rather messy, and always have been, despite efforts to clean-as-I-go. but,unlike you, I didn't have a good role model.

    wonderful dish.

  5. I like the way each bean exhibited its own personality. These are independent beans.

    Sometimes I wish I worked clean, other times I don't mind the disarray. It depends on the day.


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