How to Use Fresh Fava Beans

fava beans

Fava beans are fun and delicious!

One of the largest beans and certainly the richest in flavor, favas are a real harbinger of summer. People all over the world enjoy their rich taste and generous nutrition. Also called “broad beans,” they are high in fiber and iron, and low in sodium and fat. They have no cholesterol but so much protein that they were called “the beef of the poor” in Charles Dickens’ day.

If the beans are very young, the whole bean can be chopped up and used, pods and all. Otherwise shuck them to your preference. There is a whiteish skin around the bean itself, which some people like to eat, and others prefer to discard (see below).

Sauté shucked beans with peas and mushrooms, or with shrimp and thyme for a delicious and elegant summer supper. Toss them into soups, stir-fries or pasta. Roast them with garlic, olive oil and salt to taste, or use them raw, whole or chopped into salads. Puree favas for an alternative green base to pizza or pasta. Boil and mash them, and spread the paste on crostini.

Shucking favas

First, split the pod at the seam and remove the beans. There are about 4 to 5 per pod.

To remove the second skin, there are two different methods. The first is to make a small slit with a knife along the edge of the bean to pop the bean out of its skin.

The alternate, and more popular, method is to blanch them for 1-3 minutes. Remove the beans from the boiling water and immediately submerge them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. At this point, you can spread the beans out on a cookie sheet to freeze, then bag and store in freezer. If you’re going to use them right away, squeeze them out from their skins, and use as directed in any recipe of your choice.

Sauteeing fava beans

Shuck 2 pounds of fava beans. Use either method to remove the outer skin of the beans. You should have about 1.5 cups beans. Over medium heat in a skillet, melt together 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil, add two minced garlic cloves (or 2 finely chopped garlic scapes) and sauté for 1 minute. Add the fava beans and sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are done to your preference. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper, serve, and enjoy!

Or get a little fancier. Add other delicious items, such as caramelized onions or fennel, chunky fresh tomatoes, a bit of chopped proscuitto, and a cup of chopped endive. Serve on fettuccine with a light cream sauce.