I’ve had fava beans once before, in Spring 2008 at La’allegria in Madison, NJ. They were a part of some kind of pasta dish, and I had never tried them so I decided to go for it…and I was oh-so-glad I did. They’re buttery and nutty and have that unique fresh-bean texture.
When I saw a big bin of favas at Avila Valley Barn on Friday, I grabbed a handful. I’ve never cooked with fava beans before and I had no clue what I was going to do with them…but The Kitchn (one of my favorite food blogs) came to my rescue with this post. It turns out fava beans take a bit of work to prepare…but they’re completely worth it! Read on to see how it’s done!
How to Prepare Fava Beans for Cooking
Tip from The Kitchn: It takes a lot of bean pods to produce enough fava beans per serving, so plan on buying one pound bean pods per person. Select pods that are green and somewhat smooth. If the beans are over-bulging underneath the pods, that means they are older and likely to be bitter.
Fava beans are unique because they have to be shelled twice. They have an outer pod that holds all the beans together, and then each individual bean has a wax coating that has to be removed.
To begin: “Unzip” the bean pod. Ideally there is a string you can pull down the entire length of the bean but mine kept breaking – just do your best to get the soft pod and the beans separated.
When all the beans are out of the pods, boil some water and prepare an ice bath (a bowl filled with cold water and ice). Boil the beans for 30-45 seconds and then plunge them into the ice bath. Basically what this does is stops the cooking process. At this point, it should be fairly easy to get the waxy pod off of the actual bean. I had to use my thumb nail to slice quite a few of them open.
After they’re all shelled, you just have to boil or steam them for a few minutes and they’re ready to eat. I made gnocchi a couple weeks back and froze a bunch of it (stay tuned for that recipe!), so I threw the favas in while I cooked those. It was a delicious dinner.
I can see why some people might find this a tedious task, but I find repetitive movements to be very calming (another example: brushing my dog). In this case, it was so fun to see the bright green beans at the end – like treasure. Very delicious treasure.