Whether I’m browsing a grocery store’s produce section or, preferably, drifting among farmer’s market stalls, I love to look at fresh vegetables and fruits. The sight of them excites me. I anticipate each flavor; I imagine how this brilliant green zucchini will make that vibrant red pepper sing.
It’s new for me to get this feeling from a cookbook.
Cheryl Sternman Rule’s cookbook, Ripe, immediately captivated me. It’s a cookbook dedicated to fresh fruits and vegetables at their peak. And it’s arranged by color. Brilliant. It’s not just Cheryl’s witty writing and enticing recipes, Paulette Phlipot’s photography is astounding – an explosion of color and texture.
We’ve savored every recipe we’ve tried. And I’m lucky to get to share one of them with you.
Warm Fava Shallot Couscous
Recipe reprinted with permission from RIPE © 2012 by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.
With green favas, pearly couscous, and sweet shallots, this warming sauté is both comforting and light. (To make it more entrée like, toss in some feta and toasted pistachios.) Buy the freshest favas you can find as older beans can be starchy.
1 ½ pounds (680g) fresh fava beans (in-pod weight)
1 cup (180g) Israeli (sometimes called pearl) couscous
¼ cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot or 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced (1 ¼ cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (75g) pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
1 lemon, zest removed in long squiggly strips, juice squeezed into a small bowl
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Crack the fava pods and squeeze the beans into a bowl. Rinse. Boil the beans for 2 minutes; then remove with a slotted spoon to a colander and rinse again to cool. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the couscous to the same pot and boil until al dente, about 5 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Drain; rinse briefly to prevent clumping.
While the couscous cooks, use your thumbnail to pierce each fava’s outer shell. Squeeze the dark green inner beans into a bowl; discard the shells.
In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat until almost shimmering. Add the shallots, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a grinding of black pepper. Sauté until the shallots are golden brown and starting to crisp, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Reduce the heat to very low, add the favas, and stir until warm and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Test one bean; it should be tender.
Add the couscous to the favas along with the olives and some of the lemon juice, to taste; stir until hot. Adjust the salt and pepper. Garnish with the mint and lemon zest.
Tip: Consider preparing this dish with a friend. It’s nice to have company when you shuck the favas, as this can take a bit of time.