What they are:
Although for many folks fava beans are best known as Dr. Hannibal Lechter's fave accompaniment to liver and a nice Chianti, favas — aka broad beans, English beans, horse beans and pigeon beans — have long been dietary staples in Asia, the Middle East, South America, North Africa and Europe. They are one of the oldest cultivated plants. (And super easy to grow!) In the market fresh favas look like slightly overgrown and very bumpy string beans.
How to use them:
Like peas, favas should be harvested and consumed when they are young. Sweet and tender, bitter and buttery, they are at their very best right now. To release them from the pod: Pinch off the stem and pull away the string that runs along the seam of the pod. Run your thumbnail along the seam to pry the shell open and pop out the beans. The easiest way to sip the beans out of their skins is to blanch them for about 30 seconds and then pinch them to slide out the bean. Once they are free, use them in salads, saute them with other Spring vegetables. Our favorite — sauteed with scapes
or other alliums and then pureed for soups or a spread.
What some chefs are doing with them right now:
In Pittsburgh, Nine on Nine
recently featured roasted chicken with fava Beans, baby carrots & pistachio butter. Campo Reno
in Reno, Nevada has a crostini duo of warm nduja, fava beans & lardo. More great crostini from Stella Barra
in North Bethesda, MD, with Old Chatham Ricotta, fava beans, pistachio, and mint. Light Horse Tavern
in Jersey City, NJ is serving a super seasonal plates of duck breast with farro, fava beans, white asparagus puree and fiddlehead fern
shoots. At a recent Apollo Theater event, great caterers, Great Performances
presented artichoke, shrimp, fava beans with toasted bread crumbs and white anchovy aioli. The Kennebunk Inn
in Kennebunk, Maine paired favas with roasted Chicken dish, lemon cavatelli, olives, tomatoes, whipped feta & chimichurri. Longman & Eagle
in Chicago has a
house made gnocchi
, with a one hour duck egg, fava beans, morels
, garlic scape
relish, and Parmesan. And our friends at PRINT. restaurant
in NYC have favas all through their seasonal menu at the moment: a Squash Ricotta Ravioli with zucchini, favas, beets, tarragon, and parmesan; alongside a pan roasted poussin with peas, fregola, bacon, porcini, basil, tomato, au jus and in an uber seasonal Seared Branzino, with sautéed asparagus, scallions, favas, rhubarb, cauliflower puree , and a morel mushroom sauce.
What great fava dishes are you seeing or making? Let us know in the comments.