Fava beans otherwise known as broad beans, faba bean, or field beans are native to North Africa and South Asia, they grow very well in European countries as well as the states. It is believed that the Fava became part of the Mediterranean diet around 6000 BC or earlier. The Fava is versatile and can be fried as a snack, added to stews, or even eaten with breakfast, the choices are really unlimited, just use your imagination. As soon as I notice them in the market I make this recipe for Fava Bean and Fennel Salad as often as they are in season.
Lenny loves fava beans; they are right up there with eating a runny egg. We usually eat them in one of his favorite Portuguese dishes favaish, or as a salad with shaved parmesan. There is a farmer in Half Moon Bay which is about an hour from us who grows them, throughout the spring as well as early summer so we can enjoy often.
We recently picked up 5 pounds of fresh spring faves along with baby fennel to make this end of springtime salad. I love the combination of mint with peas so I tossed it with the light dressing that I normally use for this salad. It was perfect.
The drawback of fava beans is that you do need to peel them twice. The first peel is rather simple as you will merely need to shuck them from their outer pod. You will be left with a bean inside a slightly tougher membrane. I have found that the easiest way to get to the sweet little fava is by gently boiling them in salted water, then gently popping out the bean. It does not take much time and is definitely worth the extra effort.
I like serving this Fava Bean and Fennel Salad alongside grilled white fish or salmon.
- Take the time to peel the Fava twice. First from the pod and then from the tough membrane. It makes a big difference from delicate to tough and rubbery.
- Use fresh fava beans, while frozen are usually peeled twice this salad recipe is not the same using frozen. Frozen tend to be a bit more watery.
- Let the fava beans dry a bit after removing from the membrane. The dressing will adhere to the favas better if they are dry.
Recipe: Fava Bean and Fennel Salad
** serves 4 as a salad
5 pounds fresh fava beans
2 small fennel, leafy tops removed, sliced thinly
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons mint, minced
maldon salt, to taste
fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Prepare the Fava Beans:
Remove the fava beans from the pods.
Lay paper towels on a baking sheet or on top of a clean kitchen counter.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and toss in the fava beans for 3 minutes.
Drain the fava beans and immediately spray with cold water for 30 seconds, just until cool enough to touch.
Remove the delicate fave bean from the tough membrane. It should pop right out but if it needs a little guidance, knick the top of the bean with your finger nail or small knife, then it will pop out.
Lay the fava beans on top of the paper towel and let dry.
Putting the Salad together:
In a jar, shake together the olive oil, lemon juice, and mint.
Lightly toss the favas with the fennel and the dressing.
Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.