5 Fantastic Ways to Cook Fava Beans

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We know that fresh fava beans can be a pain to prepare (...or maybe not), but once we've got the pesky little things, what do we do with them? I've got an idea or two that will make shelling a bunch of fava beans worth the trouble.

Because of the rather short growing season fava beans have, you are likely at the very tail end, smack in the middle, or just starting to see them at your market. Whichever the case where you live, definitely snatch them up. Fresh fava beans are a treat not to be missed.

1. Tossed with Pasta: I think the creamy texture of favas goes perfectly with smaller pasta shapes like campanelle and orecchiette. No need for a recipe (unless you want to follow this one). Just toss everything together with a really good olive oil or a sprinkle of cheese and dig in.

2. Mashed into a Dip or Spread: Think "hummus" but with the fresh, green flavor of fava beans. I like to mix in a little sour cream or greek yogurt (like in this recipe) along with fresh chopped herbs like mint or dill. Fantastic with crackers when pureed until creamy or as a spread on bruschetta when left chunky.

3. Stuffed in Chicken Breasts or Fish: It's like a side salad and your main course all in one! Inspired by this recipe for Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Grapes and Hazelnuts, just cut a deep pocket into the side of a chicken breast or fish fillet, stuff with favas, and cook as usual. Toss the favas with olive oil, herbs, and a little feta or goat cheese before stuffing.

4. Made into Any-Vegetable Succotash: No matter your feelings for corn-and-lima bean succotash as a kid, you've got to try it again with fresh favas. But don't limit yourself to just corn. Throw thin slices of zucchini, fresh peas, chopped asparagus, or any other seasonal vegetable into the pan along with those lima beans. Toss over high heat with some olive oil until everything is bright and crisp-tender, and you'll have a side dish to remember.

5. Grilled or Roasted: One sure-fire way to get around shelling those fava beans is to toss the whole pods onto the grill or under the broiler. Rub the pods with olive oil and salt, and then eat them edamame-style right off the grill or sheet pan. No peeling required.

What are your favorite dishes with fava beans?

(Image: Fava Bean and Radish Bruschetta / Emily Ho)