Chow Bella

Fava Beans at Rancho Pinot and FnB -- Hurry, They're Almost Gone

Fava beans -- quite possibly the spookiest legumes of all time. Remember Hannibal Lecter, who scared the bejeezus out of Clarice (and the rest of us) when he deadpanned, "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti"? And then that little slurpy noise he made after? Seriously creepy.

The Silence of the Lambs notwithstanding, I love favas, which bear some resemblance to lima beans except that favas are larger and less starchy. They possess a faintly nutty flavor and a pleasantly slippery texture. They're yummy in soups, salads and pastas and absolutely incredible ground into purees.

Many of the city's farm-focused restaurants are using favas at the moment, but they won't be around much longer (in some cases, a week at the most), so it's a now-or-never (or at least, not-til-next-year) proposition.

Here are two restaurants that heavily favor the fava:

Chrysa Robertson, chef-owner of Rancho Pinot is offering a handful of fava dishes as long as they last.

Imagine an appetizer of two crostini, one topped with farm egg salad and crispy pancetta, the other with fava bean puree, mint and curls of pecorino ($8). So simple and so unbelievably good.

The best salad in recent memory would have to be Rancho Pinot's shaved summer squash with burrata, favas, mixed olive vinaigrette and fresh basil. It's light, elegant, a perfect nod to spring ($12).

At FnB, chef and co-owner Charleen Badman tosses pasta with duck confit, fava beans, basil, tarragon and olive crumbs for a dish that's hearty and spring-like at once ($26). The sauce is actually thickened with fava puree instead of cream or butter, which keeps the dish lighter and healthier.

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Nikki Buchanan