Lots of Ways to Use Fava Beans


Fava beans from the farmers market in Santa Monica, Calif., March 6, 2002


Fresh fava beans are a fleeting seasonal treat. They’re readily available for at most a few months each spring. They are also, without a doubt, a labor intensive treat since they must first be removed from their outer pod and then, unless they are very small and tender, slipped out of the tough skin that enwraps each bean. The easiest way to skin them is to blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes, then slit the skin with a knife or your thumb nail, and squeeze gently to slip the bean out. If that’s too much trouble for you, leave the shelled beans inside the skin, saute them in some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and let each diner perform the final extraction of bean from skin with fingers and teeth.

Fava Beans, Roman Style [top]

Pancetta, one half-inch thick slice
3 pounds unshelled young fresh fava beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup water
Black pepper, freshly ground

1. Cut the pancetta into ¼-inch wide ribbons.

2. Shell the beans and wash in cold water.

3. Cook the onion in the oil until it becomes translucent, then add the pancetta strips and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in beans and pepper. Add water and simmer, covered, on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes if the beans are young and tender, or up to 15 minutes if the beans are larger and tougher. Add extra tablespoons of water if necessary. When the beans are tender, add salt, and cook for a few more minutes uncovered until the last of the water has evaporated.

Source: Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan

Roasted Garlic-Fava Bean Sauce [top]

8 cup home-made chicken stock
1 garlic head roasted, cloves squeezed into a bowl
2 tablespoons cold butter cut into tablespoons
1 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Salt to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
½ to 1 cup cooked fava beans

1. Place stock and roasted garlic in a medium saucepan and reduce to 3 cups. Strain into a clean saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2. Whisk in the butter and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fava beans (from 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on desired consistency) and cook for 1 minute.

3. Serve with roasted chicken or other meat, or over rice or polenta.

Source: Adapted from recipe by Bobby Flay

Catalan Bean Stew [top]

2 dried red or brown chiles, such as pasilla or New Mexican reds, or 1 tablespoon Spanish or Hungarian sweet paprika
6 cups vegetable broth
2 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 ripe tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 slices country-style white bread
3 parsnips or carrots, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 cups cooked fava beans or lima beans
1 cup cooked corn kernels
2 tablespoons sherry wine or to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Tear the chiles in half and remove the stems and seeds. Soak the chiles in the stock for 1 hour or until soft. If using paprika, dissolve it in the stock. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the onions and tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast them for 20 minutes. Add the garlic and continue roasting for 20 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and the onions are golden brown. Darkly toast the bread in a toaster.

3. Transfer the chiles to a blender with a slotted spoon, reserving the stock. Add the onions, tomatoes, garlic, and toast and puree until smooth, adding stock as necessary to obtain a thick paste. Note: A blender works better than a food processor for this purpose.

4. Transfer the chile mixture to a large, nonstick frying pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the reserved stock, parsnips, and potatoes and half the parsley and cook, uncovered, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender. The recipe can be prepared ahead to this stage.

5. Stir in the fava beans, corn, sherry, and vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the beans and corn are thoroughly heated. Correct the seasoning, adding salt, sherry, or vinegar to taste. The mixture should be highly seasoned. If the stew is too thick, add a little more stock. If too thin, simmer the stew, uncovered, to evaporate the excess liquid.

6. Transfer the stew to a bowl or platter and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Rice or polenta would make a nice accompaniment.

Source: Adapted from The Tra Vigne Cookbook, by Michael Chiarello

Moroccan Fava Bean Stew [top]

1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tomato, cored and diced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
2 cups diced pumpkin or butternut or acorn squash
1 cup cooked small fava or cranberry beans, drained
1 cup cooked or canned chick peas, drained
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons harissa (Moroccan chile paste)
1 cup couscous

1. Saute onions and bell pepper in 2 tablespoons water for about 5 minutes.Add tomato and garlic and cook for 4 minutes more.

2. Stir in the remaining ingredients (except couscous) and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat until the squash is tender. Stir occasionally.

3. Stir in the couscous, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Source: Lean Bean Cuisine, by Jay Solomon

Pasta with Fresh Fava Bean Sauce [top]

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked, peeled fava beans
3/4 pound dried fettuccine
pecorino or Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan . Add the garlic and saute until light brown. Stir in the oregano, then add 1 cup of the stock. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, and add 1-1/2 cups of the fava beans. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.

2. Scrape into a blender and puree with the remaining 1/2 cup stock until smooth. Return the sauce to the pan and add the remaining 1/2 cup favas. Simmer gently and taste for seasoning. Add salt and especially pepper.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Pour the pasta into a warm serving bowl and add the sauce. Toss well and thin with the pasta water, if necessary, until the sauce is glossy and not sticky. Serve immediately. Grate the cheese over the top at the table.

Source: Adapted from The Tra Vigne Cookbook, by Michael Chiarello

Scafata (Umbrian Fava Bean Stew) [top]

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup shelled fava beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fennel
1 1/2 cups chopped chard leaves
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
salt, pepper

1. Combine fava beans, onion, fennel, carrots, chard, water and olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a slow simmer over low heat. Stir occasionally, adding water a few tablespoons at a time, if the stew is too thick.

2. When beans have begun to soften, after about 45 minutes, add tomatoes and cook for another 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Adapted from La Cucina Delle Regioni D’Italia: Umbria, by Antonella Santolini

Braised Root Vegetables with Fava Beans [top]

Sea salt
12 small turnips, peeled, stems trimmed to one-half inch
1 bunch radishes, stems trimmed to one-half inch
6 small carrots (3 to 4 inches long), peeled, stems trimmed to one-half inch
1 pound fava beans, shucked
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 bunch green onions, trimmed (use 2 to 3 inches of white and pale green part only) and sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat, adding 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Slice the turnips and radishes in half if large; leave the smaller ones whole.

2. Blanch the turnips, radishes and carrots in simmering water for 5 minutes, less if smaller, then immerse them in cold water. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

3. Bring the water back to a boil and add the fava beans; blanch 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water bath. Reserve the cooking water. Pop the fava beans out of their skins and reserve the beans.

4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch sauté pan. Add the green onions and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add one-half cup of the vegetable cooking water, the blanched vegetables, half of the parsley and tarragon and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Simmer until the vegetables are fully tender, about 10 minutes or until done. Add one-fourth cup cooking water as needed to maintain a small amount of sauce in the pan.

5. Add the fava beans, remaining butter and lemon juice. Increase the heat and swirl the pan back and forth until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the rest of the parsley and tarragon, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Source: Adapted from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating From America’s Farmers Markets, by Deborah Madison

Fava Beans with Artichokes and Green Garlic [top]

Juice of 1 lemon, or 1 tablespoon vinegar
16 very small artichokes (about 2 ounces each), or 6 medium
2 to 2 1/2 pounds young fava beans (about 2 cups shelled)
1/2 cup olive oil
6 to 8 green garlic stalks, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons chopped fresh winter savory
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Fill a large bowl with water and add the lemon juice or vinegar.

2. Trim the stem end and cut off the top 1 to 1 1/2 inches of each artichoke, depending upon size. Peel away and discard the outer dark-green leaves until you reach the pale-yellow, tender inner leaves. Cut the artichokes in half, from stem to top, and remove any bits of furry choke. Cut the halves in half again lengthwise; drop the pieces into the water.

3. Shell the fava beans. Because some people are allergic to the skins of the fava beans and because they are somewhat tough, you may want to peel the skins away, too. They are easily popped off by slitting the skin with the tip of a sharp knife or your thumbnail.

4. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.

5. Drain the artichoke pieces and dry them. Add them to the pan and saute for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the fava beans and the garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The artichokes will begin to change color to deep olive green; the favas, if peeled, will be bright green. Add the fresh herbs and the salt and pepper. Stir well, reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer until the artichokes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Fava Beans Sauted with Onions and Fennel [top]

3 lb fresh fava beans shelled
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 fresh fennel bulb trimmed, sliced thin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds coarsely ground with a spice grinder
1 1/3 cup canned low-salt chicken broth more or less
4 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped pancetta
1/2 teaspoon dried savory
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook fava beans in boiling salted water 2 minutes. Drain, cool and peel outer skins.

2. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and fennel bulb; saute 5 minutes. Add favas and fennel seeds; saute 3 minutes. Add 1 cup broth and 2 tablespoons dill. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in pancetta and savory, adding more broth if mixture is dry. Simmer until favas are tender, about 15 minutes longer.

4. Stir in lemon juice and 2 tablespoons dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Source: Adapted from Bon Apetit Magazine

Bissara (Fresh Fava Bean Dip) [top]

2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled, peeled if large
3 tb fresh lemon juice
5 tb extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
pita wedges, sliced raw carrots, or crackers for serving

1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Blanch the beans for 2 or 3 minutes. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Peel if the beans are large.

2. In a blender or food processor, combine half the beans, the reserved liquid and the lemon juice. (Add more liquid if you prefer a thinner dip.) Process, scraping down the sides with a spatula, until the mixture is fairly smooth. Add the remaining beans and the oil, and process until smooth.

3. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the salt and cumin. Sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with pita bread, vegetables, or crackers for dipping.

Source: Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from My Moroccan Kitchen, by Kitty Morse

Fava Bean Relish [top]

1 1/2 tb olive oil
8 ounces chopped andouille sausage (optional)
1 cup fresh fava beans
1/3 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup peeled, chopped plum (roma) tomatoes
1 clove garlic minced
1-2 tb chopped cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the sausage and saute stirring for 2 minutes. Add the beans, onions, tomatoes, garlic and cilantro and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is good with cheese dishes, as well as chicken and fish.

NOTE: One pound of fava beans in the pod yields about one cup of shelled and peeled beans.

Source: ONE Encino Farmers Market

Warm Spring Vegetable Salad [top]

1-1/2 pounds of fava beans, shelled
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbs chopped fresh chervil
8 ounces asparagus, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 ounces (or 4 small) carrots, peeled, thinly sliced or julienned
1 pound green peas, shelled
½ small fennel bulb, cored, thinly sliced crosswise
½ tsp salt, plus salt to taste
pepper to taste
tarragon vinegar to taste

1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, put in the shelled fava beans and cook 1 minute. Take them out with a slotted spoon (save the water), rinse briefly to cool, them remove their outer skins. Put the peeled beans in a bowl along with the sliced onion, olive oil and chervil. Return the water to a boil.

2. Prepare the rest of the vegetables and add to the boiling water, along with ½ teaspoon salt. Check after a minute to see if the vegetables are done; cook longer if necessary.

3. Drain the vegetables in a colander and shake off as much water as possible. Add them to the onions and beans and gently mix everything together using a rubber spatula.

4. Taste and season with salt, if desired, and a grinding of pepper. Gradually add vinegar until it is as tart as you like. Serve right away.