Fava beans are one of the oldest domesticated legumes. References to favas occur in both the Talmud and the Mishna* suggesting they have been part of the Middle Eastern diet since at least since the 4th century. They are likely to have been a main source of protein for ancient Israelites. Evidence suggests that in ancient times Fava beans were prepared by immersing dried beans in a pot of water, sealing and then burying them beneath hot coals so they could slowly cook. Beans are a great source of fiber, protein, iron, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and many other beneficial nutrients. *(The first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions.)
Fresh from the pod fava beans have a short season. They are bright green and very pretty, and have a mild, creamy flavor. Dried fava beans, when cooked and peeled, have a texture similar to cooked chickpeas but slightly softer. Most forms of fresh fava beans need to be peeled and blanched before eating, which can be time consuming, but isn’t difficult. They are then ready for use, or can be dried or frozen for future use.
Two pounds of fava bean pods will yield about 1 cup of blanched, shelled beans.
Below is an unusual grilled in the pod recipe, and a delicious summery dip.
Peeling and blanching Fava Beans
Peeling: Look at the fava bean pod. You will notice that the edges have a seam. Snap off the tip and pull down; the seam will open like a zipper. If you have trouble “unzipping” the pod cleanly, don’t worry. Once the pod is open at least somewhat you can easily tear it open the rest of the way with your hands. Remove the beans from the pod. They may stick to the fleshy, furry interior or fall right out. Each pod should have 4 or 5 beans.
Blanching: Fill a pot with water and salt (enough to cover the beans) and bring to a boil. While you wait for the water to boil fill a mixing bowl with cold ice water (enough to cover the beans) and set aside.
Once the water is boiling, drop in the fresh fava beans and boil for no more than for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, immediately transfer the blanched fava beans to the bowl of ice water. This will stop them from cooking any longer.
Slipping the skin: Fava Beans are now ready to slip the skin. Some people skip this step but keeping the fibrous covering on makes the fava beans less creamy. Pinch the fava bean between your thumb and forefinger and rub the fava bean until the skin loosens and peels off.
FAVA BEAN SPREAD
-Mint or parsley
-Salt and pepper
-Ricotta or Goat cheese
1. Pulse blanched fava beans in a food processor with some mint or parsley until roughly chopped.
2. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
3. Spread slices of baguette with ricotta or goat cheese and bean dip. Drizzle with olive oil and top with arugula.
GRILLED FAVA BEAN PODS WITH CHILE AND LEMON from Food and Wine
15 MIN SERVES 6
-1 pound very fresh fava beans in the pods, rinsed
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-1 scallion, thinly sliced crosswise
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or Chinese chile sauce
-Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Light a grill.
2. In a large bowl, toss the fava bean pods with the olive oil.
3. Grill the favas over high heat for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until softened and charred in spots.
4. Return the beans to the bowl and toss with the scallion, crushed red pepper and salt.
5. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.