Getting Fancy with Fava Beans


So, I had these fava beans. And I needed to figure out what to do with them. When I bought them at the market, I was going to do a simple mashed fava bean spread for some little grilled toasts. Simple and yummy. And, quick, if you discount the time it takes to prepare the fava beans in the first place.

Prepping favas is one of those things that is really more work than it should be. There are two steps of shelling: once from the big pods, and then once from the beans themselves. If they weren’t so darn tasty, I’d never bother. Particularly, since I can never quite remember how to do the second step… do I start with boiling water or cool water, how long to I boil, etc. It’s not that it’s hard… it’s just that some information just never sticks in my head, and how to prepare fava beans is one of them. So, I turned to my trusty produce bible to refresh my memory and there was this recipe for fava bean rotollos.

It’s not the kind of recipe that I am normally inclined to make. Not that there is anything wrong with the ingredients… fresh basil, some cheese, eggs and favas. You really can’t go wrong there. It would make a great omelet. Which in fact, is basically what the rotollos are. They are just a super-fancy omelet. A kind of omelet with an updo. An omelet that is, perhaps, trying just a little to hard to be something special, when it would be pretty special as it is. But then, we can all use a little fancy in our lives now and then, even if it isn’t at all necessary, right? So the rotollos got to be my fancy for the day.

fava bean rotollo

Really, they aren’t much harder to make than your standard 3-egg omelet and it is kind of fun to be able to eat an omelet with your fingers, just popping one after another of the bite-sized pieces into your mouth. There’s a bit more time for the baking after the egg is initially set in the skillet, but the rolling is even easier than trying to get the perfect omelet flip in the pan. The combination of cream cheese, fava beans, basil and machego cheese is delectable, but I can imagine using this same basic recipe with all kinds of interesting fillings. Lox, capers and cream cheese for a start. Or, maybe make a sweet concoction of tart pie cherries and mascarpone, all rolled into a slightly sweetened egg batter. Hmm. In fact, I might just have to go get fancy again right now.

Fava Bean & Cream Cheese Rotollos
Adapted from The Produce Bible’s Fava Bean Rotollo with salad greens
Makes 6 to 7 bite sized pieces

1 lb fava beans in their pods
1 clove garlic, crushed.
2 t olive oil
1 t butter
3 eggs
2 T fresh basil, roughly chopped
3 T plain cream cheese
manchego cheese (or parmesan)
salt & pepper to taste

Remove the fava beans from their pods. Bring a pot of water with a touch of salt in it to a boil. Add the favas and cook for about 2 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and run under cold water. Squeeze each bean until it pops out of it’s thick skin.

In a small skillet, heat 1 t of olive oil, and add the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, and add the fava beans. Saute for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 315F.

Whisk the eggs together with about 1/2 of the basil and a bit of salt an pepper, and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set close by the stove.

Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet on the stove on high till hot. Now, turn down the heat to medium-high, and add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the remaining olive oil and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the center of the skillet, trying to create a fairly circular and thin layer, a bit thicker than a crepe. It doesn’t need to reach the sides of the pan. Cook until the whole egg mixture is set on the bottom. It will still be a bit runny inside, but just a little. Then, carefully slide the flat egg disc onto the parchment with the wet side up, close to the bottom edge of the parchment.

Dot the egg with the cream cheese, and sprinkle the whole thing with the favas, remaining basil and a bit of salt and pepper. Grate the manchego cheese all over, making sure you get plenty on the sides. Then, using the parchment as a guide, carefully roll the whole thing up as tightly as you can. Then, roll into the parchment, and carefully fold under the ends to keep it in the log shape and place in the center of the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Unwrap and allow to cool slightly on a rack with the seam down for a few minutes.

Carefully remove the roll from the parchment. Slice into rounds.

These are tasty served on their own, perhaps on toothpicks, or with some fresh romaine hearts, drizzled with a good olive oil, salt and toasted pine nuts.

19 thoughts on “Getting Fancy with Fava Beans

  1. These are adorable. I love the way they look like little fusion versions of maki rolls. They look like great finger food for a fancy picnic. My husband and I are heading to a concert at Ravinia (in Chicago) and I’m excited to try these out.

  2. From the first picture, I was going to say they look like a variation on sushi rolls. Then, with the lettuce leaves (right?) in the background, they look like flowers! Either way you look at it, they’re so artistic! I love eating non-finger foods in my hands too. Try crepes that way…so fun!

  3. are fava’s still around?
    i think i missed my window…

    that recipe looks wonderful
    how do you think a drizzle of white truffle oil would be?

  4. I love fava’s, and yep you can still get them here, and I do regularly!

    I really enjoy pairing fava’s with morels as a great accompaniment to some grilled or seared salmon. I have never thought of mushing them up for a spread though.. I might have to try that!

    Fantastic food photos as usual.

  5. these look fabulous.
    we grown a LOT of favas. our favorite way to eat them is raw–topped with cubes of feta cheese, fresh oregano leaves, olive oil and black pepper.
    pour a glass of wine, sit some place with a great view, and consume with gusto

  6. Lovely! They really highlight how a little construction twist and an elegant presentation can make you think twice about a simple dish. This makes me want to roll up other foods…

  7. Yeah, fava beans are a total pain. They are delicious though and depending on what you’re making, there are 1 or 2 canned favas that are pretty darn good.

  8. This looks incredible. I can’t wait to try it. I’ve never worked with fava beans, but since having Fava Bean Arancini at Barbuzzo in Philadelphia I’ve been wanting to try them….this gives me a terrific excuse. Thanks!!!

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