Fava beans have a nutty flavor and buttery texture, and are commonly found at farmer’s markets. They come in bright green pods that are approximately 6 inches long - each pod contains about 3-5 beans. When you open a pod, you’ll notice that the beans are a dull green color. The beans are actually covered by a thick shell that’s not very pleasant to eat. Fava beans also come in dried form, but are definitely not interchangeable with the fresh version.
Preparing fava beans is not difficult, but involves a little bit of time and patience. The first step is to remove the beans from the pods. I do my shelling in front of the tv, it goes much quicker.
After the beans have been removed from the pods, they need to be blanched. I blanch the beans in boiling salted water for about 2-3 minutes, depending on size. The next step is to transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water to cool. Once the beans have cooled, those thick outer shells will be wrinkled and easy to remove. It takes a bit of practice to get the beans out of the shells in one piece. If your beans split in half, it’s not a big deal, they’ll still taste great.
Once you’ve removed all the outer shells, you’ll end up with a pile of vibrantly colored beans that are ready to eat. My favorite ways to eat fava beans are in salads or pasta. The beans can also be pureed and served on bread or as a topping for fish.
I used these fava beans in a salad recipe that I adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. The beans are paired with salty oil cured olives, meyer lemon and endive for a beautiful and delicious salad. The original recipe says to instruct your guests to eat the slices of meyer lemons, peel and all. I don’t think I’d be able to convince my family and friends to eat lemon slices, so I’m making it an optional garnish, because they sure look pretty in the salad. I added chive flowers because I have them in the garden, but they’re also optional.
Endive and fava bean salad
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
5 belgian endives, cores removed and leaves separated
juice from 1 meyer lemon, plus extra lemon slices for garnish
3/4 cup shelled and cooked fava beans
1/3 cup oil cured olives, pitted and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
chive flowers for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing, combine the shallot, cream, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange the endive spears on a platter, toss with dressing. Sprinkle the fava beans, olives and chives over the top. Garnish with lemon slices and chive flowers if desired.