Polenta Hash with Fava Beans, Garbanzos, and Peas.

[Leaf Parade. Polenta hash with fava beans, garbanzos, and peas.]

You know how Santa Claus arrives in the middle of the night, delivers his merry heap of bounty, and then sneaks off again without a trace? I love that. It’s so easy to be fascinated by something that we can’t see — something that appears to be magical by simple virtue of its not having appeared at all.

You should know that this is not the case with the Fava Bean Fairy, who I saw with my very own eyes just a few days ago in the Whole Foods produce section. He was wearing a green collared shirt, a set of plastic food safety gloves, and he was schlepping those beautiful bulging pea pods from box to basket like nobody’s business. Notwithstanding his conspicuous, no-frills approach, I found his trick to be of the most magical I’ve seen in awhile.

For several weeks now, I’ve been gawking over a myriad of fava bean recipes, but up until this week, I had yet to see a single green pod at any of the markets I frequent. Patiently I waited, as so many others await the first ramps and the first artichokes. Oh, the celebrities of early spring.

[Leaf Parade. Polenta hash with fava beans, garbanzos, and peas.]

I wondered about the empty basket when I first walked past it — the one tucked between the green beans and the snap peas. I had my suspicions, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

And then, it was like a scene in a movie. He emerged from the stock room and walked straight over to the basket in question. I whispered under my breath, “The fava beans are coming! The fava beans are coming!” And then they were there. And just like a troop of wide-eyed tweens descending upon a Justin Bieber concert, half of Cambridge swooped in for the kill. I managed to secure myself a good pound’s worth before the stash was totally ransacked. Thank goodness for elbows.

[Leaf Parade. Polenta hash with fava beans, garbanzos, and peas.]

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Polenta Hash with Fava Beans, Garbanzos, and Peas.

For two to four.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fava bean pods (or about 1 cup frozen favas, thawed)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • Sea salt + cracked black pepper
  • About 9 ounces prepared polenta (half a roll), cut into cubes
  • 1-1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (or one can)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Pea shoots, basil leaves, and goat cheese to serve

Method:

Start by preparing the fava beans according to these instructions.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter with the olive oil. When it’s quite hot, add the green onions and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until soft and fragrant, and then add the cubed polenta. Cook until the polenta is warm and almost crisp, and then add the chickpeas and the prepared favas. Saute for about 5 minutes, add the Brussels sprouts, and cover the pot for another 5 minutes, allowing the Brussels to steam and turn bright green. Add the peas. Cook for a few more minutes, until the Brussels are done but still al dente, and then season to taste. Top with pea shoots, torn basil leaves, and crumbles of goat cheese.

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