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May 16, 2006 07:19 PM

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. The original comment has been removed
            1. 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.


              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.