Fava beans are prized by restaurant chefs for their rich, buttery flavor, and we’re thrilled to see them pop up on menus this month. But they deserve a place in the home kitchen, too. Don’t be put off by the extra time it takes to shell and peel them — fresh favas are well worth the effort. Read on for our best tips for working with fava beans, then find some simple ways to prepare them this season, straight from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen.
Look for: Fava bean pods should be soft and pale green, packed with pale green beans. Store the beans, still in their pods, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to several days (don’t shell them until just before cooking).
Prep tips: To shell the beans, first, snap off the stem and pull away the tough string on the side of the pod. Then pop open each pod by pressing your thumbnails along its seam. Unless the favas were picked very young and small, you will need to remove the skin covering each shelled bean — it can be tough and bitter. To remove the skins, drop the shelled beans into a pot of boiling water and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Pinch each bean on the opposite end from where it was attached to the pod and squeeze; the bean should pop free. Use a paring knife to remove any stubborn skins.
Uses: Fava beans are delicious in salads, soups and pastas, and they pair with other spring ingredients like asparagus, English peas and fresh herbs. They lend themselves well to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, as they’re popular in those cuisines. Young spring fava beans are tender enough to be eaten raw — just add a pinch of sharp pecorino cheese.
Favas with Pecorino: Shell favas and cook in salted water until tender. Grate fresh pecorino romano cheese over favas and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Sauteed Favas: Saute shelled favas with shelled fresh peas, olive oil and salt. Finish with lemon zest and chiffonade of fresh mint.
Fava Crostini: Cook peeled favas in boiling water until tender; puree with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor. Spread on toasts and top with parmesan shavings or grated pecorino romano cheese.
Fava and Radish Salad: Toss cooked shelled favas with thinly sliced radishes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Finish with shavings of pecorino romano or parmesan cheese.