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Fava Leaf Pesto

April 29, 2011

Each winter we grow favas, more for their ability to fix nitrogen into our garden beds, than to eat.  We usually have one meal involving the fava beans and then till the plants into the soil or add them to our compost.  If you read Sunset magazine, you may have noticed that they have featured fava leaf recipes in the past few issues. I had no idea you could eat the leaves!  Actually the leaves are quite delicious and since our plants are four feet tall, there are plenty of them to eat!

The other day, my kids and I set off to the garden, basket and scissors in hand, to pick some fava beans and leaves.  Our mission was to make pesto.  Pesto is one of my their favorite foods.  They love to eat it, but even more so, they love to make it with me.  They are old enough now that  their “help”  actually is help, but not so old that they do not want to help anymore.  We collected a basket of fava leaves and as many beans as we could (ours are still a little on the small side).   The kids then went to work happily shelling the beans, as I picked the leaves from the stem.  Together we pureed the leaves with garlic, walnuts, and parmesan with the kids taking turns pressing the buttons on the food processor.  The munchkins also had the job of quality control, testing out the pesto on a toasted slice of bread.

Fava Leaf Pesto has a bright spinachy flavor with hints of artichoke.  The intense green color is superb! I tossed it with some hot linguine and topped the bowl with a scattering of blanched baby fava beans and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  My son announced, “I’m definitely having more.  I could eat this forever!” Not a bad endorsement.  If you do not not have a crop of favas in your backyard, check the farmers’ market.  We will definitely make this pesto again!

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