This has been a bit of an off week. While Mike and I have quietly celebrated a few exciting developments in our lives, our happiness has been muted by some devastating news from good friends of ours. As I said to someone earlier this week, as fun as it can be to have friends and loved ones located all over the map, it’s hard to be so far away when something bad happens and you can’t rush over to provide the help, comfort and support you so desperately want to.
My heart has been heavy, my appetite dull, and I haven’t felt particularly inspired, but somehow last night I turned out something that I felt really proud of, a simple dish of favas and fregula that hit all the right notes and left me feeling, just for a while, a little lighter.
I cooked my shelled and peeled favas in olive oil with salt and a crumbled chile de arbol until they were bright green and tender, and set them aside while I worked on the fregula. I added a pinch of saffron to a pot of boiling chicken broth I had pulled from the freezer, salted it and added a squirt of tomato paste for color and richness, then added the fregula to cook. While it boiled and swelled, I tossed the favas with some chopped pickled scallions and some of my marinated grilled red peppers, giving the mixture a good slick of olive oil.
When the fregula had absorbed all of its cooking liquid I tossed it with the fava bean mixture, tossing in some chopped fresh parsley and adding a splash of sherry vinegar for brightness. I served it with crispy grilled smelts tossed with olive oil and smoked paprika, and while the combination was a good one, the fregula really stole the show. I suspect it would be great as a stand-alone dish.