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how do you cook fava beans?

  • j

what are the best ways to cook a fava bean?
can i just shell them fresh and saute them with garlic and olive oil?
how long do they need to cook?
can i eat them raw?
what is the consistency that they need to be in order to eat them? (firm? mushy? bright green and toothsome?)
do i steam them?
boil them?
puree them?

any suggestions would be most appreciated.

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  1. Fava beans are kind of a pain to prep....but they pay off in flavor. You first have to shell them, then blanch the shelled beans in water for a few minutes and shock them. Then, you can remove the second skin, a tough greyer/browner coating that is unpleasant to eat. Simply peel it right off.
    Then, the possibilities are limitless. I really like a simple sautee in olive oil, garlic/onion, salt and pepper, and either tossed into pasta, placed on bruschetta or pureed as a side dish or bread topper.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Aaron

      So are fava beans what Lupini beans are made from?
      those pickled things in the jar that you have to suck out of the skins and then they taste like fresh mozzerella?

      1. re: Aaron

        Favas don't have to be blanched in order to remove the second skin, although it is indeed easier if you do so. I've come across a number of recipes, specifically Italian and mostly salads, that call for raw favas and have successfully peeled them without blanching. But you're right. Either way it's a pain. A very worthwhile pain.

        1. re: JoanN

          Indeed you are correct, the amount of extra time you spend shelling them if you don't blanch them is seemingly longer than just blanching them...but good point either way.

      2. Really young favas don't need to be peeled. Just cook them as you would fresh peas. Among other things, they make a very nice garnish for other spring delicacies like wild salmon and baby lamb.

        Paula Wolfert has a net trick for peeling mature favas without blanching. Put the shelled, unpeeled beans in a tight-fitting Ziploc bag and freeze (up to four months) until an hour or so before you plan to use them. Then, while the beans are still frozen, slip them out of their skins. An alternate method she suggests (and that I haven't tried) is to steam the beans in their pods and then double-peel them under running cold water, removing the skins along with the pods. The disadvantage of this later method is that the beans have to be used immediately or they turn slimy.

        By the way, the new edition of her The Cooking of Southwest France includes a recipe for a delicious fava bean ragout flavoured with duck fat, shallots, pancetta and artichoke hearts. She suggests using the ragout as a bed for an if anything even more delicious marinated, roasted and grilled pork belly, though it's also great alongside duck confit and mighty tasty on its own. The book also contains a fresh fava bean cassoulet I've been meaning to try, so thanks for the reminder.

        3 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          What are the characteristics of a "Really young fava"?
          i have seen them in all lengths and colors. so, i am assuming that a youg fava would be the bright green, still undented, un browned pod, and when you crack it open the white fuzzy stuff should be fluffy and white? is that right? i am going on assumption, i have seen many shows with fava's in them but honestly, i have never seen anyone cook one. i have eaten them pureed in soups, but never as a side dish or mixed in to something and still recognizable as the fava bean....

          thanks again for any info.

          take care,

          1. re: Jupiter

            In contrast to Italy and the west coast, where I've enjoyed them in restaurants, baby favas are rare beasts here in Montreal. In fact, I've seen them only once and that was long ago. As I recall, the pods were 5 or 6 inches long, smooth and undented and pale silky insides more like a string or flat bean's.

            Italians eat unpeeled baby favas raw, dipped in coarse salt and olive oil, as an appetizer, by the way. I used mine to make frittedda, the Palermitan ragout of onions, artichokes, baby peas and baby favas flavoured with olive oil and fennel fronds.

            1. re: Jupiter

              Age is generally determined by the size of the bean itself. "Young favas" are only available at the begining of the season, are a pain to peel, and are the size of an English pea. There are many recipes that say that you don't need to peel but I have yet to meet a fava that didn't benefit from it.

              Blanch 30 sec. Peel again. Stew in olive oil with garlic and rosemary for ten minutes. Puree. Yum.

          2. I bought fava beans for the first time and made this recipe last night. I had never even eaten them before, but this recipe was great.

            Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            1. 1. Blanch, peel (if necessary), then drizzle with good olive oil, lemon, s&p, and a crushed clove of garlic. let sit for an hour, remove clove of garlic if you don't want to eat it. crushed chili is nice here, too.

              2. If you have lots, blanch, then mash about 3/4 of them with garlic, basil, olive oil, and some good pecorino cheese. Add some chili if you like. Mix in the unmashed beans. Makes a good pasta sauce, or a dip for bread.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Cagey

                On the subject of 'mashing' and 'a good pasta sauce', I recently prepared an excellent vegetarian dish utilizing dandelion greens, dried fava, and gemelli pasta. Dried, already-shelled fava has a different taste and consistency than fresh but is also very delicious, inexpensive, and vegetarian. I was so impressed with the dish because it left you VERY satisfied after the meal. Pasta, after all, has a tendency to do that though.

                1. re: Cheese Boy

                  Another great vegetarian dish with dried favas comes from Umbria. Purée the reconstituted and cooked beans with a slice or two of crustless white bread soaked in milk. Beat in some EVOO to lighten the texture. Keep warm. Meanwhile, parboil some rapini, then drain and sauté it in olive oil in which you've browned a few smooshed garlic cloves. Spread the purée on a platter, top with the rapini, drizzle with more EVOO and serve, preferably with some crusty peasant bread. Amazing synergy of flavours, one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dishes.

              2. This recipe, found on Recipezaar, was originally from Gourmet and is reprinted in the New Gourmet Cookbook. I made it for my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago and he said next time, I shouldn't even bother with a main course. He'd be happy just to have this salad for dinner.

                Link: http://www.recipezaar.com/60918

                1. All of the above, really.

                  30 seconds in boiling water is long enough to make the skins easy to remove.

                  Try some raw after you've peel them to see if you like the flavor. When they get a little older they can get a bit bitter and starchy, in which case they would be best cooked more.

                  My favorite prep is to poach about 75% of the peeled beans in olive oil over low heat for about 10 minutes. Then put the poached beans, reserved raw beans, and oil in a food processor, add salt and pepper, and puree. Add more olive oil if necessary to make it creamy. Spread over crostini and top with black pepper, shaved pecorino, and a few drops of truffle oil. Pure heaven. Serve with an Alto Adige Sauvignon Blanc.


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: nja

                    Thanks Nick.

                    and thanks to the rest of you.

                    i will try the raw salad, as well as the fava "pesto" so to speak.

                    it is fava season here again and it is driving me crazy that i don't know what to do with them since they are so beautiful and prevalent.
                    but now i know.

                    Thanks again,

                    1. re: nja

                      That sounds heavenly.

                      I actually have some white truffle oil that I forgot about in my cupboard. How long is it good for?

                      1. re: Pate'

                        I had a bottle of commercial stuff that lost all of its truffle essence after a year of being opened.

                        1. re: Pate'

                          follow your nose- like w/ any food oil- they can all go rancid. Try to get truffle oil in small amounts & commit to using in a few months or share w/ friends. Keep cool, dark (not cold) and get one in a neutral oil like canola rather than olive as olive turns faster than canola & you can always add EVOO at the end of a dish. ALSO get some truffle salt for finishing- never goes bad- sprinkle & drizzle w/ EVOO_ voila!
                          NOTE: walnut oil, sesame, grapeseed ALL go bad quickly so use it or lose it.

                        2. re: nja

                          I just cooked "brown fava beans", Golchin brand. I don't know if these are different from what you were cooking, but I had to boil them for at least 2 minutes before the shells were soft enough to pull off. The shells get puffy, and a pocket of air forms between the shell and the bean. I would definitely not shell them without boiling them first. The ones that weren't ready were super hard to get off. But now that it's done, I simply rinsed the shelled beans, boiled them in clean water for another 5 minutes, then made them into a salad by adding green onion, garlic, salt pepper, olive oil, a little bit of white wine vinegar and lemon. It's really good! I'm totally excited I learned how to cook a new ingredient, and I plan to make them again even though it was a little labor intesive.

                        3. If you run out of energy peeling or don't have a lot of them, favas are really good combined with mashed avocado as well. Add salt & pepper (the crunchy Maldon salt is great), plus some kind of good acid: lemon juice, white wine vinegar or the like. The avocado adds enough richness that you can use very little or no olive oil.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Millicent

                            This was a yummy way to eat a small number of freshly shelled beans right off the vine (even though I did use too much lemon juice). Thanks for the suggestion.

                            1. re: Millicent

                              Looking up a recipe for my fresh favas that came in the CSA today. This sounds truly amazing. Starting now! Thanks for the recipe!

                            2. After blanching and peeling the favas one recipe I've enjoyed is as a salad with thin sliced red onions, crisp bacon, pimentos, lemon juice, and sun-dried tomato oil (gently heat sliced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and cool).

                              1. I've purchased frozen fava beans (labeled also as "broad beans") at a store in Harlem (Fine Fare, I think - 117th and Lenox?). It was a huge bag, very inexpensive. They needed blanching, and then peeling, just like regular shelled favas. As I am now shelling and blanching some beautiful fresh beans I just bought, I recall that the quality of the fozen beans was just as good as fresh (with a few clunkers). And the price was amazing.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: mle

                                  I buy big bags of frozen beans at our local Portuguese and Brazilian-serving supermarkets, near Boston. I thaw the beans so that the hull softens and just split the hull and squeeze out the beautiful green inside. I saute onions and a bit of garlic in olive oil, add the beans and some chicken broth, and cook the beans for about ten minutes until soft. Smush them up with salt and pepper and use as a spread. Amazing and satisfying.

                                  1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                    I bought frozen double peeled fava beans at the market today. I want to make them with olive oil, garlic, lemon etc. Do I need to boil the beans first. There are no directions on the package

                                    1. re: HSMA

                                      I don't know what "double peeled" means. My guess is that they have taken the beans out of the pod, and have taken the bitter skin off each bean, so they're probably ready to go. Are they a beautiful bright green? You should not need to boil them first, just put them in a pan with your olive oil and maybe a bit of broth to help them thaw, and then flavor them. They cook in about 10 minutes or so.

                                2. With a nice little chianti....and a census worker like Hannibal Lecter recommends.

                                  1. I like simmering with either fresh or canned tomato in its juices ,herbs, s&p and olive oil .or steam and serve with salad ,cheese etc .Here on Long Island I get canned (several varieties) jarred (green and real good),as well as frozen and fresh.

                                    1. I really prefer them shelled twice. My favorite is pureed. The Suzanne Goin recipe here and elsewhere is very good, although I actually prefer it with fresh lima peans.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: JudiAU

                                        I prefer them double-podded too. I really love these beans (we call them broad beans back home) and am delighted to see them in the stores at the moment!

                                        I'm surprised I can't seem to find frozen ones though, they are so common in the UK but I've not seen them in any stores in DC!