We’re in the midst of fava bean season, which runs from late March to May, and these lumpy green beans are popping up at markets everywhere. If you’ve seen fava beans (aka broad beans), you’ll probably agree that they’re not very attractive. But give them a try! Once you do, you’ll see why favas have so many fans.
Like all legumes, fava beans are high in protein and fiber and very low in fat. Favas are a good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. They’re also a cholesterol-free food.
Buy pods that are green and firm, with few to no brown spots. A pound of beans will yield one cup of shelled beans. You can find frozen and canned fava beans year-round at most supermarkets, but fresh beans are the tastiest. Dried fava beans, which are best for soups and stews, can be found on the shelf of some ethnic markets, especially those that stock Mediterranean and Asian foods.
How to Prepare Fava Beans
Preparing fava beans is easy enough, but it involves several steps.
1. First, remove the beans from their fuzzy pods. Each pod yields about 4 to 7 beans.
2. Then, place the beans in lightly salted boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes, drain, and rinse in cold water. Alternatively, you could steam the beans.
3. Finally, slip each bean from its waxy coating.
Fresh fava beans are a beautiful green color. They’re nutty, buttery, creamy, and yummy–and certainly worth the effort it takes to prepare them.
As an ingredient, fava beans are incredibly versatile. They can be used in salads, soups, pasta dishes, casseroles, sautéed with garlic and olive oil, mashed with avocado, and paired with other spring veggies, such as asparagus and morel mushrooms. Here are two easy recipes to replicate at home.
Fava Bean Salad
1 cup cooked fava beans
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, cooked, cooled and blotted dry
1/2 cup frozen corn, defrosted
4 green onions, chopped1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 hard boiled egg, finely chopped
6 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
Zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine the fava beans, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, corn, green onions and kalamata olives.
2. Zest one lemon over the salad ingredients.
3. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, mint, salt, and pepper. Gently toss.
4. Divide among four plates and top each serving with some of the chopped egg.
Option: Top this salad with cooked shrimp or grilled chicken to make it a heartier meal.
Fava Bean Canapés
1 cup cooked fava beans
1 green onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Shaved pecorino cheese
4 slices whole-grain bread, crusts removed, cut into triangles
1. In a food processor, pulse to combine the fava beans, green onion, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Add a bit more olive oil if needed, and puree until smooth.
2. Spread a generous spoonful of puree on each bread triangle.
3. Use a vegetable peeler to shave thin slices of pecorino, and garnish each canapé with one thin slice.