How To Cook Fava Beans is a step-by-step tutorial on the process involved in cooking fava beans. They’re tender, creamy, and one of spring’s finest offerings!
If you’re like me, you’ve blown past fava beans at the farmer’s market or supermarket because:
(a) you have no idea what to do with them, or
(b) you have no idea what the heck they are
Fava beans basically look like funky, gigantic pea pods. They’re very rustic, and look almost archaic. I never knew what they were for years and went for my beloved English peas without knowing what I was missing. Later on, I’d read about them in various cooking magazines and wanted to try them, but from what I’d read it was a bit of a process to shuck and peel them, so I just never got around to it.
Don’t let these photos fool you….favas are enormous. 🙂
Luckily for me, I was exposed to fava beans in cooking school, and I was blown away. If you’ve ever experienced freshly shelled English peas, you know what a treat they are. Well, fava beans are about 10 times better, and are a complete luxury. My instructor told us that if she goes to a restaurant and there’s a dish with fava beans on the menu, she always orders it because of the process involved, and because they’re only available for a limited time.
I hate to be a copycat, but now I do that, too.
And needless to say, I never, ever blow past fava beans at the farmer’s market. In fact, I seek them out.
There’s a two-part process to fava beans — shelling them and removing the waxy outer skin. The favas in the photo above have been shelled, but they still have the outer skin on them, which can be tough to eat. Some people don’t mind eating it, but the actual fava bean is so delicate and creamy, it seems like a sin to leave that on? Try them and you’ll understand. 🙂
To shell the fava beans, either pull back the top stem and “unzip” the pod, or use a paring knife very gently to get you started and open them up, as shown in the first photo. And one note — one pound of fava beans generally equals only 1 cup of actual beans.
Next, place the fava beans in boiling water and simmer for 1 minute, or if you’re making a puree, cook them a total of 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of the beans.
Drain the beans and place immediately in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. This process will keep your favas that beautiful, trademark green color. 🙂
From there, gently squeeze the fava beans from the outer skin. And that’s it — your fava beans are now ready for your recipes. They’re perfect anywhere you would use peas, such as pastas, risottos, soups, salads, and even hummus! Last year I made a puree out of them for my Fava Bean, Burrata, and Mint Crostini, and it was delicious. 🙂
The green color of fava beans is intoxicating, so they’re one of the most perfect ingredients to represent spring. They’re not around long, so get them while you can! And they do actually freeze fine. I bought these and didn’t get around to using them until I got back from a trip, so I stuck them in the freezer, pod and all. They were just great, so keep that in mind! Fava beans are completely worth the effort…the best things in life usually are. 🙂
Fava bean recipes you’ll love:
Breakfast Toast with Fava Bean Spread and Crispy Capicola by Cooking and Beer
Coriander Crusted Halibut with Fresh Corn & Fava Bean Succotash by Feasting at Home
Summer Fresh Vegetable Lasagna (No Bake) by Simple Healthy Kitchen
- 1 pound fava beans, in their pod
- pinch of salt
- Pull back on the tip of the pod, and "unzip" it, opening the pod and removing the beans. Alternately, you can use the tip of a paring knife to gently open the pod along the seam, being careful not to cut the beans. You will have roughly one cup of fava beans after shelling.
- Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil, and fill a small bowl with ice water and set aside. Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water, and add the fava beans. Turn down the heat and simmer at a gentle boil for 1 minute. Drain immediately and pour the beans into the ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Drain the beans and gently squeeze from the waxy outer skin. The bean are now ready for your pastas, soups, salads, and purees!
Once the skins are removed, beans may be kept in an airtight container for a few days until you're ready to use them, or frozen.
If making a puree, the fava beans may be boiled for a total of 3-4 minutes (depending on the size of the beans) before removing the skins for a creamier texture.
Recipe by Flavor the Moments.