Thursday, April 10

A Fava Bean by Any Other Name Would Taste as Good

fava beans at the farmers' market

Finally, the wait is over! Fava beans are in season. They appeared for the first time last Sunday, and I couldn't be happier. I know how hard the wait has been on you too, but you can rest easy now. Well don't rest too easily. Fava beans have a depressingly short season--usually just 4-5 weeks in April-May.

Fava (FAH vah) beans, like artichokes, asparagus, and English peas are a hallmark of spring time produce. These meaty, chewy legumes are exceptionally flavorful; they're similar in taste to edamame and have the firm texture of lima/butter beans. In general, the larger the pod, the better the bean. So when you see them, buy them, even if they're $3.00-4.00/pound. You won't be disappointed.

And don't worry about what to call them. According to Wiki and Cook's Thesaurus, you're correct if you say Vicia faba, broad bean, butter bean, faba bean, English bean, field bean, horse bean, tic bean, or Winsdor bean. I'm not making this up. I think someone actually wrote a dissertation entitled "The Many Appellations of the Bean, Fava."

So call 'em whatever you want, just don't miss them. And follow these instructions for shelling. They take a little effort because you have to shell them twice, but trust me, they're worth it.
  1. Snap the top off of the pod. Sometimes the pod will split easily down the seam, but sometimes you have to squeeze and twist the pod with your fingers till it pops and the beans are exposed.
  2. Remove the beans and discard the shells.
  3. Now you need to remove the waxy casing that encloses the fava bean. The easiest way is to boil the beans for 2 minutes, then drain them, and plunge in a bowl of ice water. Now for the fun part-- squeeze the casing gently between your thumb and forefinger and watch the fava bean pop out! Discard the waxy shell.

fava bean being shelled

Now it's time to eat them, and you can eat a lot of them. A 1/2 cup of boiled fava beans is just over 90 calories and contains nearly 7 grams of protein and 5 grams of dietary fiber. They're high in calcium, iron, and folate. So enjoy them in salads, soups, pastas, and risottos. Or mash 'em up in spreads and dips.

fava bean in my hand

I'm sending this recipe to Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi, the hosts of this week's Weekend Herb Blogging created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

fava bean and dill crostini

Fava Bean and Dill Crostini
Yields 3/4-1 cup
Print recipe only here.

3/4 cup shelled fava beans (about 1-1 1/4 pounds fresh fava beans in the shell)
1/2 cup red potato, diced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
7-8 cranks black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh minced dill
2 tablespoons grated Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese
4 tablespoons water, or as needed
salt, to taste

1 baguette

Boil the fava beans in a small pot for 2-3 minutes; drain, and plunge into a bowl of ice water.

Meanwhile in a small pot, boil potatoes for 10 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool. Squeeze the casing gently between your thumb and forefinger and watch the fava bean pop out! Discard the waxy shells.

Place fava beans, potatoes, and remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Use less water for a chunkier spread and more water for a smoother spread.

Toast bread slices. Spread bean mixture on toasts. Sprinkle with some sea salt, drizzle with some extra virgin oil oil, and top each with a sprig of fresh dill.

Note: If you can't find fava beans, then I suggest substituting lima/butter beans or edamame. I have also made this spread with fresh shelled English peas and fresh shelled sugar snap peas which are equally delicious.

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Gretchen Noelle said...

Sounds great! I look forward to more fava recipes. We seem to have them almost all year round and I love them!

glamah16 said...

I'm going to be on the lookout for these! Thats a nice starter you created.

bee said...

that looks delicious. the colour is so pretty. thanks for your entry.

Kalyn Denny said...

Waah. I've never tasted fresh fava beans. Last year I bought some in SF at the Ferry Building market and left them in the hotel refrigerator. Your crostini looks fantastic, great photo!

RecipeGirl said...

Where the heck did you find these?? I've been looking around for them to no avail. I have a few fava recipes I'm waiting to try!

Your crostini looks so pretty!

Anonymous said...

OH YUMM! I came here to look at your quesadillas for dinner tonight & now I see something else to try.... You are keep'n me busy, girl! In a good way. And, wonderful photos too. I wish you lived closer so that I could join you at the farmers market.

Ciao, bella,

Manggy said...

Gorgeous shots! They just yell "SPRING!!!" :) It's sad that a lot of people are still yucked out by beans. I love them. They're totally healthy and they can take on a lot of flavor: I especially like what you've done here :)

Proud Italian Cook said...

Wow, thats a gorgeous crostini you got there! I love fava beans too!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! Fava beans are my favorites, i used them last week for the first time this year. Those crostini look delicious, i gotta try that! Great use or it.

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

I am saving up for fava because during the May break we'll go to Rome and eat them with a ton of Pecorino Romano! :) I wonder if I can get dill here in Italy. Those look good!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those crostini look fabulous! I love such tasty and refined spreads/dips... Spring is a wonderful season!



Emily said...

Yum! I'm so impressed-that crostini sounds divine. A perfect taste of spring. I'll be on the lookout for favas...with a nice chianti.
Come on?! Nobody made a SOTL joke yet?!

funwithyourfood said...

Fantastic pictures of de-shelling the beans! They seem really easy to prepare. hopefully they'll be at my market this weekend!


Unknown said...

mmm mmm mmm, the beans must be perfect with indonesian spices...lemme give them a try ^_^

sunita said...

That looks so pretty..also love the pictures and that stylish dish you served it on :-)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful color. Spring is truly here :)

Anonymous said...

We get tons of these from my brother-in-law's garden and I love them. We enjoy eating them for a snack, boiled and straight-up, like edamame. That way everyone gets to shell their own.

Finla said...

Love the pic and the crostini.

Katy said...

oh, that looks great! haven't seen fava beans at our farmer's market yet -- but i will keep my eyes peeled! i have seen fresh edamame though -- so maybe i will try that!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, this recipe is similar to one I saw at "Jamie at Home" and I've been meaning to try it ever since. Your crostini look delish!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Maybe this year I'll find a source for fava beans. In the meantime I'm admiring how beautiful the picture of your crostini is. The green of the fava beans is the most perfect springtime color.

vb said...

Really lovely! Our markets in Seattle should have some too. I'll certainly check this weekend.

NĂºria said...

Hi Susan! They are called the same here: Faba in catalonia and Haba in the rest of Spain. My father loves this ones with black blood sausage... not your kind... I guess ;-)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Hi Susan - I love fava beans, and made a wonderful fava bean crostini last year. I did learn that you have to be patient - the popping of the beans requires patience, so don't expect to rush through that part! Shelling is part of the slow enjoyment!

Meg said...

I love fava spreads. And cooked fava beans with guanciale. And raw, with pecorino fresco and chorizo. And... well, I like them. This spread looks great; it's never occured to me to use potato (or parmesan) in a fava spread before, and of course now that I've read it, it seems terrifically sensible and obvious. But I never would have thought of it on my own.

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

Gorgeous photos as always, Susan. I must admit I've been put off by the two-step shelling process, but reading this post and looking at your crostini, I may have to break down and try it. The photos and description of the really simple process tipped the scales for me.

Don't lump lima and butter beans together, though. If you do, you'll get quite an argument from my Aunt Veta!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

gretchen noelle-All year? Maybe I should move to Peru!

coco-Hope you find them!

bee-You're welcome!

kalyn-I hope somebody found them and ate them!

lori-At the local farmers' market.

amy-Hope the quesadillas went well!

mark-Aw, thanks! :)

marie-Then I hope you make it!

zen-It's really delicious.

sara-I've read that Rome does fava beans in a big way. Wish I could go too!

rosa-Then you'll love this one.

emiline-Jeff had his with a Chianti too, I think!

funwithyourfood-Good luck finding them.

rita-Oh, yes, they would be.

sunita-Thanks a bunch!

maryann-They are a hallmark of spring.

susan-Oh, you lucky girl!

happy cook-Thanks so much!

katy-They should show up soon.

patricia- Apparently favas are very popular in Italy.

julie-It is a lovely green, isn't it?

vb-Hope you find them!

nuria-Oh, "faba" and "haba" are Spanish. Thanks!

tw-It is fun, isn't it?

meg-They would be wonderful with salty guanciale and Pecorino. The potato makes it thicker and meatier which I really like.

terry-Thanks. The shelling is actually kind of fun when you get into it. Hey, Cook's Thesaurus lumped them together, not me, Aunt Veda!

Journey_of_Life said...

thanks for the comment. do you make a good income with adsense?? i think i need some tips on my site. :(

Deborah Dowd said...

My confession- I have never had a fava bean (with or without liver and a nice Chianti). These crostini look healthy and delicious, so I guess I'll go fava hunting!

K Allrich said...

Susan, Thanks for the great info on the humble fava bean. I love them- with olive oil and sage- as a side dish for vegan brown rice meals. I'd love to try a spread/hummus like this. Thanks for the inspiration!

Stella said...

I love the way you point out so many details in your posts Susan:)

And these crostinis look great with the fava beans on them, must be so yummilicious...

Wendy said...

Broad beans are butter beans???? Really? Huh.
Lovely crostini. :)

Anonymous said...

I call them broad beans Susan and I couldn't believe my luck when I found some in my veg box a couple of weeks ago. I was so excited I squealed! They were young and perfect and delicious, one of my all time favourite vegetables. Your crostini look delicious and really beautiful too.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Ooooh, lucky you! The broad bean (as we call them here) season is still a little way off for those of us in the UK - but like you, I'm just counting the minutes... Lovely looking canapes you've got there.

Lore said...

I bet fava beans make a delicious combo with fresh dill! Your crostini looks just about ready for a bite :)

Deeba PAB said...

Theses ROCK Susan! I love 'em! WOW. Great pictures too..lovely post!

Ivy said...

Although we don't have so many names for the beans, we do have fava. I've seen them at the Farmers' Market but are still very expensive maybe 5 or 6 Euros. You are such an excellent cook Susan, love all your recipes and your photos are excellent.

Lisa Johnson said...

I've never had fava beans and didn't know they had so much protein. I guess I should try some. They do look good. I'll just have to try to get the "Silence of the Lambs" line out of my head. Eeek! They've gotten a bad rap since that movie.

Lori Lynn said...

Such a lovely crostini photo. This color, spring green, is my favorite, whether it is food, or wall paint.

Unknown said...

I really like the sound of the fava bean and dill combo! I can't wait for them to be in season here.

Honeyed Hashette said...

I love fava beans! So good...but I love pretty much any bean.

My cousin makes a great salad with fava beans, green peas, fresh mint, lemon zest, and lemon juice. You top it off with grilled halloumi cheese. To die for yummy and fresh!

Mama Mia said...

Awesome So Cal foodblogger! Thanks for sharing.

Andrea said...

Such a pretty (and healthy) appetizer!

Katie Zeller said...

It looks lovely... and I'm sure it tastes wonderful - but I don't think I could bear to mash them. They're so pretty and green whole.
Ours have just appeared as well. So far, I've done and Asparagus and Fava risotto, and nibbled... Lots of nibbling.
If I can find a big bunch I'll try this. (I shell them while watching my hour of tv)

Annemarie said...

Interesting - as I was reading your post, I was thinking that fava beans must be called something different in the UK since I don't remember seeing them here. They may be broad beans though those have quite fuzzy cushiony pods on the inside. I have planted my peas and beans this past weekend and am really looking forward to all the fresh greens of the season.

Veron said...

this looks so refreshingly good! A sure sign of spring.

Linda said...

fava beans are my absolute favorite. those little suckers are so much work! peel this, boil that, peel again, etc... but honestly, they are completely worth it every time. i just have to remind myself every time i sit down to shell them!

bazu said...

Susan, you know I'm a huge fan of your blog and your recipes, but these last few posts are absolutely making me melt! Dill and fava beans? Oh dear! Yes!

Anonymous said...

I have never had fresh fava beans. But after seeing these beautiful photos, I'll be looking for them.

Anonymous said...

they have arrived! i saw them today at the market but was on other missions. 1st thing tomorrow morning I'm going back for some - you have be obsessed, I love the act of peeling chucking them down. what a clever recipe! yum!

KayKat said...

Ooo ... love it! I just picked up some fava beans yesterday, *so* excited :)

That crostini looks divine, can't wait to try it!

Jeff said...

I am jealous that you actually have stuff in season. Our season right now is trying to avoid weather that can go from mid 50s and sunny to freezing snow in no time. Couple more weeks couple more weeks.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

journeyoflife-You're welcome.

deborah-Happy hunting!

karina-They must be lovely with sage; I'll have to try it.

stella-Thanks, I appreciate that.

wendy-Yup! :)

helen-I would have squealed too!

forkful-Tic-toc... :)

lore-It's like spring on a plate!

deeba-THANKS! :)

ivy-That is awfully sweet of you.:)

anali-I never saw it. I'm a big 'ol wimp.

lori lynn-It is a cheerful color.

kevin-Wait till you taste it!

janna-Oh, that sounds fantastic! I'm trying it.

lina-Well, thanks a bunch!

andrea-It is pretty healthy.

katiez-I simply adore asparagus and favas together. Oh, yum.

annemarie-Ooh, the anticipation of beans growing in your garden must be fun.

veron-Spring indeed.

linda-Seriously. :)

bazu-Thanks so much!

carol-I hope you find some!

aria-Ooh, "clever," huh? ;)

kaykat-You're gonna love it!

jeff-Hang in there! :)

Lynne Daley said...

I just bought fresh fava beans for the first time last week. I'm glad I looked them up in a cookbook because I didn't know you have to take them out of their little jackets. Your crostini looks wonderful!