I grew fava beans as a cover crop in my vegetable garden.
What I didn’t realize was the variety I selected (or maybe I just planted them at the wrong time) would not mature early enough to get my spring planting done, at least not in that garden area. I had never eaten fava beans before, but they sounded delicious so I was looking forward to a bumper crop. Me and the chickens that is.
Well, I was not sure at what stage to pick the little darlings, so I waited until the pods got real big. I kept sampling the younger beans and they tasted raw and sort of bitter so I assumed that they just weren’t ready yet. I asked my chef neighbor how to cook them and he told me to pick them very young, dip them into batter and use them like a tempura. Sounds good, but mine were way too big for that. Plow them under, he says.
Hmmmmm………well, I gave a lot of them away, fed a lot to the chickens but still had beans coming out my ears. By then I started seeing them for sale at the farmers market and they were just as big as mine were. Clearly I was missing something. I decided to go to the old standby- the internet.
Turns out preparing fava beans is a two step process. First you peel the outer shell (like a banana). Next you make a small cut at the top of the bean kernel and squeeze out the inner bean. Success! I am now officially addicted to fava beans. Who knew!
Here is a great tutorial for you folks who like a visual: How to peel fava beans
Now what? I decided to make a fava bean puree to go over some spaghetti. I tried a couple of different ways, but here is the final version:
Fava Bean Puree
1 onion, slivered
2 cups shelled fava beans
2 cups good homemade chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup cream or half and half
1 pound cooked spaghetti or other pasta as desired
Strips of Pancetta if desired Parmesan Cheese as desired
Saute the onion in a large skillet until soft and then add the garlic and the red pepper flakes, stir them in well.
Add the chicken broth and the fava beans and cook until the fava beans are soft and tender- about 15 minutes.
Place the above mixture in a blender- you may need to add a little water or extra broth if it is too thick to work with.
Return to the skillet and add enough cream to make a slightly thick sauce. Add some parmesan cheese and pancetta if desired.
Toss with your pasta and enjoy!
Another link about preparing fava beans with recipes by NPR
- Fava Beans: Rigatoni with Fava Beans and Fresh Ricotta (yourfoodchoices.com)
- Growing Fava Beans (giantveggiegardener.com)