SPRING’S arrival, though exhilarating, comes with a catch: all of winter’s hidden catastrophes are suddenly illuminated by the unsympathetic glare of sunlight—the overgrown garden, the crowded garage, that forgotten and for-boding nook behind the toilet. But (thank you, vitamin D!), we also have newfound energy coursing through our veins to conquer these little disasters. And with effort comes reward: while the regimens of the season occupy our hands, our minds are free to roam.
Nothing embodies the meditative rewards of spring’s labors quite like the fava bean. “It’s wonderful to sit and squeeze fava beans from their shells, letting your mind wander,” says Kevin Gibson, chef at Evoe, Pastaworks’ gourmet lunch counter on SE Hawthorne Boulevard. “You can reflect on what’s next—it gives you time to be creative.”
This kind of contemplative labor is at the heart of Gibson’s quiet, deliberate approach to food. His recipe for fried morel mushrooms with fava bean purée is no exception: each element plays a role, but work is required on your part. It was Gibson’s Iowan grandmother who inspired the dish, and it certainly bears her imprint: “A friend used to bring baskets of morels to her,” he recalls. “She fried them in saltines.” Gibson adds a layer of subtlety to that classic Midwestern simplicity with the mellow, buttery flavor of brioche, which allows the brightly flavored, colorful fava bean dip to take center stage.
Don’t be intimidated by this dish—instead, take the time to painstakingly shuck the beans, linger over a perfect mushroom, squeeze the last of winter’s lemons, and enjoy the season’s quiet rewards. The labor should be just as savory as each finger-lickin’ bite.