"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

What to do with those Fava Beans

by Julie on May 2, 2012

in Good Ideas Gone Bad, Vegetarian

I grabbed a handful of fava beans from the bin of my local farm stand specifically because I had a memory of somebody else doing something neat with them.

I myself had no idea what to do with them.

But if Emily loved fava beans, then surely I would love fava beans.

We lived next door to Emily and her family for a while more than 10 years ago, but she left a large impression on me. A scholar on Moroccan Jewry who spoke several Levantine languages, Emily was also a stylish blonde who collected art and books and had a bad eBay couture habit. She had this graceful insouciance in the kitchen that drove me mad with envy. She could whip up a beautiful impromptu dinner party without breaking a sweat, serving it out on colorful Moroccan crockery. She was the one who gave me the rosemary red soup recipe, and once produced an onion tart from scratch with so little effort it became my (still unrealized) culinary aspiration.

Skinny bitch. I pretty much worshipped her.

I recall her sitting at her tiny table before a mountain of fava beans, shucking them patiently. Why would she go through such an effort, I wondered.

“I just love fava beans,” she told me. “I ate them every day in Morocco. They’re so delicious…”

It was with just this in mind that I grabbed my handful of favas. But when I emailed Emily to ask for her recipe, she wrote back, “Oh, you know, just a little garlic and olive oil and some thyme…”

In other words, no recipe. In other words, if you are sophisticated and well-traveled, you’ll know what to do with fava beans. In other words, Julie, YOU will have to GOOGLE it. And didn’t your thyme plant just die recently in your weedy backyard herb planter?

In other words, here I was with a handful of fava beans and no real idea of what to do with them. So I Googled how to prepare them.

Because before you do anything with them, you have to prepare them. It’s a lot of work, fava beans. You have to shuck them, THEN steam them…

steamed fava beans

Don't ask me how long...

Some reports say only a minute or two. I did five. The little beans went shrively and the bigger ones still required a knife to peel.

Oh yeah, you have to peel them after you steam them. TWO steps. Before you even get to the cooking part.

Seems like a whole lotta work...

...for a little dish of fava beans

In the end, because I had so few fava beans, I went ahead and sauteed them in some garlic and olive oil. No thyme, but some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

A small dish of favas

And they were pretty tasty. Buttery. Nice. But I’m sure if Emily had made them for me it would have been some kind of crazy awesome mouth experience. Maybe when I see her next week…

Stay tuned. In the meantime, tell me what you like to do with your favas…




{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious May 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Girl, would you please look for Melissa’s Shelled & Steamed Ready-to-Eat Fava Beans, in the refrigerated area of the fresh produce section? They are ready to go, double peeling already done. Seriously. If your market doesn’t have them, ask the produce guy to get them for you.


Haylo May 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm

With liver and a nice chianti…


Darienne May 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Grill them whole, and eat them like edamame: http://www.cookplayexplore.com/2010/05/second-helping-grilled-fava-beans-with.html. If I have smallish pods, I do this with a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. Good stuff. I love them peeled and sautéed too, but only if someone else does the work.


Julie May 2, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Grilling! Hmm…..that sounds kinda tasty. Thanks for the tip!


Darienne May 7, 2012 at 9:43 am

One more for you: Freeze and thaw. Requires patience, but less so than the usual fava drama. http://www.chow.com/food-news/111753/how-to-easily-peel-fava-beans/


Angelina May 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm

I like to add mine to polenta which I let cool and then grill.


Julie May 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Ooh. Now that sounds fancy….but good ( I can just imagine what my family would say if I told them I was grilling polenta….Thanks for the delicious tip, Angelina!


2sisters2cities May 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

I am actually hosting a fava bean linky party at 2sisters2cities.com as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series. I would love if you submitted this recipe!



Julie May 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

Happy to…but it’s not really a recipe…


boulderfoodie June 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I like to make a simple but delectable puree for pasta or crostini


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