John and Carmel Whitman own and manage the Old Creek Ranch Winery. In addition to producing excellent wines, they also grow a variety of fresh produce including fava beans.
John shared some dried fava beans with me last winter and encouraged me to plant them. I couldn’t wait to get home to give them to my private gardener, Robin, and beg her to plant them for me. Robin grows ‘em. I cook ‘em! Instead of cooking them, however, I decided to use John’s fava beans in a vegetarian Escabeche.
Escabeche is typically a Mediterranean cuisine, which generally refers to a dish of poached or fried fish that is marinated in an acidic mixture before serving. In addition to Mediterranean countries, Escabeche is common in Salvadoran, Panamanian, Peruvian, Philippine, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Guatemalan and Mexican cuisine.
And although Escabeche is generally identified with fish dishes, it also refers to the marinade itself. Fava beans are sweet, tender, and pleasantly starchy. When they are marinated, the contrast between the sharp marinade and the mild greenness of the beans is really wonderful.
Here’s a vegan recipe I developed for John’s beans:
2 pounds fresh fava beans
¼ cup olive oil
1 jalapeño (stem removed, seeded and cut in half, lengthwise)
2 medium sweet onions (thickly sliced)
3 medium carrots (scrubbed and thickly sliced)
1 head garlic (cloves separated and peeled)
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
¼teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While the water heats, remove the fava beans from their long pods and mealy jacket (if any). Once the water boils, add the fava beans and cook until bright green and just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under cold water.