So I’ll confess that I actually bought these fava beans a few weeks ago. Usually, it doesn’t matter exactly when I post, but these guys are very seasonal and kind of hard to come across so I realized I needed to put this post up NOW. Hopefully they’re still out there!
I was lucky enough to spot these favas for the first time a few weeks ago at the farmer’s market and quickly jumped on the opportunity–albeit with a bit of hesitation because I’ve heard they’re a bit labor-intensive. But, I had never seen fresh ones before and the culinary nerd in me just HAD to try this novelty.
These favas had an amazing sweet, vibrant flavor that I don’t think you’d get if they weren’t fresh. I could easily eat them plain (which I actually did with my first batch, so I had to buy another the next week so I could do a recipe and take pictures- whoops).
If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t heard of fava beans. Or at least haven’t tasted them. The only mainstream appearance these beans have made are in the movie, Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal Lector comments that he “ate his liver with some fava beans”. As disturbing as that sounds, I plead you to give fava beans a chance!
Although not too popular in the U.S., fava beans were actually the only bean/legume available to Europeans up until they settled in the U.S. and found other legumes. Fava beans have made their rounds around the globe–although they originated in north Africa and southwest Asia, they made an appearance during ancient Greece and Rome civilizations and now are grown in tons of countries.
I’ve always associated fava beans with lima beans, as lima beans were the only other type of broad bean that I knew and the two are similar in size and in taste. However, comparing a fresh fava bean to a defrosted lima bean (as those are the only types of lima beans I’ve had) is no match. Fresh beans just come with such a better and more enhanced taste.
How to shell (and prep) fava beans
It’s a somewhat laborious process, but worth doing, at least once!
1. Get a small pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, take the beans out of the pod (just pop them out) and discard the pods.
3. Get a small bath of ice water ready for the beans. You’ll be blanching and shocking the beans to get the shell off (yes, there’s another shell these beans are in!). Don’t know what blanch and shock means? Check out my previous post about it here.
4. Place the beans in the boiling water for about 1-2 minutes, then quickly put in ice water. You can use a slotted spoon or, if it fits, put all the beans in a strainer and then put that in the pot and then also in the ice water bowl (that saves a lot of time and frustration trying to fish out those few cast away beans!).
5. Once cooled down, take the beans out of the ice water. Done and ready to be eaten or used in a recipe.
Now the letdown…
I don’t have a recipe, per-say. Unfortunately, the beans were just too good…plus, I liked them plain or on top of a salad best. It takes too many beans (and work) to make them the star of the dish or make a puree out of them. Here’s what I think they’d pair PERFECTLY with in a salad:
Fava Bean, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad
With no quantities, this is less of a recipe and more a suggestion of food pairings.
fresh mixed greens or leafy lettuce
cucumber, sliced or chopped
avocado, sliced or chopped
light vinaigrette (I personally would do a Champagne or Raspberry Vinaigrette)
top with freshly shaved parmesan cheese or slightly candied pecans (Trader Joe’s has really good ones)