Guilty by association, fava beans have a sinister connotation made famous by the character Hannibal Lecter. While they would pair quite nicely with a bottle of Chianti, fava beans are a versatile legume to add to your weekly ingredient repertoire. They’re hearty enough for a main course, but yet also tender and delicate enough to embellish a side dish or appetizer.
They look like edamame on steroids or giant pea pods, and in reality, this isn’t too far off. Fava beans are quite large legumes, with the semblance of lima beans or even Greek gigante beans. And like their bean cousins, fava beans need just a little bit of prep work before you can enjoy them in your dishes.
The cocoon-like pod that houses the beans is not edible so the beans must be removed. Simply snap back the tip of the pod to break it open, then pull down along the stringy fibers attached to the seam of the pod to split it open and pop the beans out. If the top does not pull down in one seamless action, you made need to use your fingers to pry open the seam. If the pod is a fluffy sleeping bag, the thin skin surrounding each bean is a pillowcase, holding the bean delicately in place. And just beneath the pale green skin lies the crème de la crème, the vibrant green fava bean. But you must also peel the beans out of their skins before eating as well. So many layers just to get to one bean! The trick to removing the finicky skins is to par-boil or flash steam the beans for about three minutes, then immediately toss them in a bath of ice-cold water. The temperature shock prevents the beans from overcooking but allows them to cook just enough to loosen the skins so they can slip right off. You will notice the skins get wrinkly, and you can gently tear open the skin and gingerly squeeze the fava bean out.
Fresh fava beans are only in-season during the spring and are difficult to find year-round, but you can always opt for frozen or dried fava beans in the off-season.
Full of fiber, plant protein, folate, magnesium, and much more, fava beans hold their shape well when tossed into risottos or pastas, but also have a silky, creamy interior, which also makes them ideal for purees or healthy dips, like hummus. You can toss them into soups or stews, or even sauté them with other veggies; the possibilities are endless! Fava beans are popular in middle eastern or Egyptian cooking, so they are often used in dishes like
This week, we tossed our fava beans into a soup with a plethora of other garden veggies in our CSA share. A colorful potage of carrots, onions, garlic, turnip roots and greens, golden squash, and of course, our fava beans. Get creative with your fava beans and share with us your recipes! We want to see what you’ve been making with your CSA vegetables!