Fava Bean, Arugula & Quinoa Salad

The older I get the more and more I realize all those old wives and Tiger mothers are right: nothing good comes easy. Whether it be your health, raising a child, sailing a boat, running a marathon; anything worth a darn in life comes with some effort. Truly. Think about it.

And the same goes for fava beans. Yes, I'm gonna get all deep here on the subject of beans. Because, honestly, these are a vegetable always talked about in the food world but in actuality are kind of a pain in the rear. But stay with me -- the little green pods are worth it. With each bean you touch and prepare, you will be reminded: life is work...life is work...life is work -- but in a good way.
I realized this while I was actually prepping the fava beans I ordered in my weekly Washington's Green Grocer box. I remembered how I once read that people who eat fava beans have a ridiculously higher chance of making it to 100 years old than folks who don't eat the beans. The article seemed to indicate that it was because the beans are super healthy, which, indeed, they are.

Yet, as I was shucking the favas, and then steaming them, and then peeling back the skin from each individual bean, I realized why people that eat fava beans probably live longer than others. It's because they give a hoot. I mean, hell, if you're willing to go through the effort of dealing with these bad boys, then you're probably the kind of person who is going to wake up at dawn to teach yourself the art of bonsai. Or try your darndest to learn the violin. Because it's worth the effort. You're probably like that in your career, in your relationships -- in everything.

So, as I was tackling these beans (which takes a while, I'm not going to lie), I thought of my own grandfather, who just turned 97. Yes, he once tried to serve me a cold plop of Chef Boyardi Beefaroni for lunch right from the can, but the man worked hard his whole life. And look at him -- still kicking away and taking care of my grandmother. And so I decided I wanted to be more like him. The beans inspired me (truly! though it sounds silly) to not be such a sloth. I mean, geez, how hard is it to go for a morning jog? Or hit the driving range every once in a while? Or even just shower and change out of my pajamas so as not to look like a hardened streetwalker before I run my errands?

I guess the moral of this is: eat your fava beans. Because besides making you feel like Jack (you know, as in the Beanstalk???), they will make you think. And work. Which is kinda, well, nice!

So here is a recipe to try with your magic beans...


3-4 cups cooked quinoa (I do mine with chicken broth for added flavor)
fresh arugula (4-6 cups)
1-2 pounds fresh fava beans, in their pods
juice of 2 lemons (I think the more lemony this salad is the better!)
1/4 cup olive oil
shaved pecorino romano cheese
salt, pepper to taste

First, address the fava beans. You'll have to remove them from their pods so to make this easier, pop the one end off and then pull the little middle string-like piece of the pod down. This way you can split the pod down the middle and pick out the beans easily.

Once you have a big bowl of beans, they are ready to steam. Steam the beans for a few minutes -- not long at all -- or until the skins get wrinkly.

Then you can simply peel off the outer skin from the bean, leaving the bright green edible part.

Once that is done, stir in everything together in a big bowl. I do it when my quinoa is still steaming, so it wilts the arugula. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Enjoy!