Fava beans: Worth the effort

Fava beans: Worth the effort (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

Fava beans don't get any richer than this, and they don't get any more delicious, either. This recipe from Richard Olney's "Simple French Food" (Atheneum, 1974) is almost compulsively edible. After all, how bad can bacon, cream and egg yolks be?

5 pounds young fava beans, in pods

1/4 pound lean bacon strips

1 tablespoon butter

1 branch fresh savory (or pinch finely crumbled dried savory)

About 3 tablespoons water

Salt

1/2 cup whipping cream

3 egg yolks

Freshly ground black pepper

Lemon juice

Chopped parsley

Shell beans and remove skins from all except those pods that are tiny and bright green. Cut bacon in 1/2-inch sections, parboil for a few seconds to remove excess salt and drain.

Cook bacon in butter in heavy saucepan over low heat 2 to 3 minutes. Bacon should remain limp. Add fava beans, savory, just enough water to moisten lightly and salt to taste. Cover tightly and cook over high heat few seconds. Turn heat to low again so beans stew in own steam rather than boiling. Cook, shaking pan gently from time to time, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 1 minute or so.

Mix cream, egg yolks and pepper to taste and stir gently into fava beans. Return to low heat, stirring until sauce is only lightly bound, coating spoon thinly. Sauce should not approach boil. Squeeze in few drops lemon juice to taste, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving contains about: 488 calories; 283 mg sodium; 267 mg cholesterol; 31 grams fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 19 grams protein; 1.69 grams fiber.