It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have become a huge fan of fava beans. I was aware of them for years, but I didn’t really know how to prepare them. Many people heard of fava beans in the 1991 movie, Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal Lector stated, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”. Not an image I want to remember, but that line always comes to mind when I think of fava beans.
These beans are somewhat labor intensive, but they are so worth the effort. They are a cool weather vegetable, but I’m fortunate enough to live in a city where I can find them throughout the year. This simple preparation is my favorite way to eat them.
If you’ve never seen fava beans, they grow in very large pods. Removing the beans from the pods is very much like any other type of bean. I spent many hours as a kid shelling butter beans and black eyed peas. Once you get a rhythm going, the process goes very quickly.
The shelled beans have a thick skin which is removed after cooking.
After blanching in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and cooling, take each bean and tear the outer skin by pinching the end of the bean with your fingernails. Gently squeeze the bean out of the skin. The beans slide of very easily, so this step goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of it.
There are many ways to enjoy fava beans. Make them in hummus, bean dip, or in soups or salads. I really like to eat them as the main ingredient, so the salad in this post is my favorite way to make them.
- 3 lbs fava beans
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1. Remove beans from pods. Blanch in salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Strain the beans and place in an ice bath to stop cooking.
- 2. Pinch off one end of outer skin of each bean and gently push bean out of the skin.
- 3. Place beans in a bowl with onion.
- 4. Whisk lemon juice with salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Pour over beans and onion.
- 5. Slice cheese with vegetable peeler. Top salad with cheese.