How To Pick, Clean and Prepare Fava Beans

How To Pick, Clean and Prepare Fava Beans

Kathryn Hill
May 14, 2009

Go ahead and make your jokes about fava beans and a nice Chianti. There's no denying that these fresh, meaty beans are delicious, and they are in season right now, so grab them up!

Most Americans aren't familiar with fava beans, so we hope this post will make them seem less mysterious and cause more people to give them a try.

It takes a lot of bean pods to produce enough fava beans per serving, so plan on buying one pound bean pods per person. Select pods that are green and somewhat smooth. If the beans are over-bulging underneath the pods, that means they are older and likely to be bitter.

Note: fava beans (also called broad beans and pigeon beans) are high in tyramine, and shouldn't be eaten by people who take MAO inhibitors (e.g. antidepressants.)

Pull off the top and "unzip" the seam of the bean pod.

Open the pod and remove the beans. There are usually 4 to 5 beans per pod.

The beans have a waxy outer coating, which you'll need to remove. Blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. The waxy coating will slip right off.

Ta-da! The finished beans are now ready for most recipes.

From here, you can steam them till tender, and toss them in a mixture of salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Or you can mash them and spread them on bruschetta, or fold them into mashed potatoes. They're also a great addition to a green salad, a risotto dish, or pasta.

Here are some fava bean recipes to try out:
Recipe: Ricotta Pasta with Fava Beans and Bacon
Grill Recipe of the Day: Grilled Rainbow Chard With Fava Beans And Oregano
Fava Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic and Yogurt
Ancient Egyptian Recipe: Ful Medammes - a stewed fava bean dish marinated with garlic, parsley, and lemon juice that is still a staple of Egyptian diets.

(Image: Kathryn Hill)

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