Cooking Local: Shop for Fava Beans at the Farmers' Market

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fava Beans
Text and Photos by Greta Hardin

The Favas are on their way, and they come with a super simple, introductory recipe. As simple is this recipe is, it was one of the later things I tried in my local vegetable adventure. I blame lima beans for my delayed introduction to favas. I was a complete non-fan of lima beans, or at least the frozen lima beans I had to eat as a child. The particular grainy mushiness of the limas had set me up to believe any large beans were doomed to be the same way. After a few extremely pleasant and tasty encounters with Gigante beans I now know the off-putting texture had more to do with preparation than any virtue, or lack thereof, in the lima beans themselves.

Lima beans aside, the fava beans in their mildly fuzzy, well-padded pods are immature and will have a texture much closer to edamame (those green soy-beans you get at Japanese Restaurants and Sushi Bars), though the flavor is quite different – and most excellent.

Fava beans are a bit of a project since they are “Old World” beans and thus have a skin over the bean that is tough and not pleasant to eat once the beans get above a certain size. Garbanzos and soy beans fall into this rough group. “New World” beans can have edible pods - think snow peas or green beans – and while they still have a skin over the seed, it is so thin we eat it without noticing.

All that detail means that to get the goodies in a fava bean, there’s popping open pods, shucking, and then some peeling. But the little guys are so tasty, it is completely worth the trouble.

Here’s a basic recipe for cooking favas on a grill, and make a fun, finger friendly vegetable to accompany cookouts. This also leaves the tedious work to the individual eaters.

Grilled Fava Beans

  • Fava Bean Pods – 4-6 per person
  • Salt

  • Grill
  • Plates
  • Somewhere to put the non-edible parts
  • Rinse the pods if they need it.
  1. On a heated grill (or a saut̩ pan with a little oil) place the pods on and cook until the pods are soft and wilted Рoften with black marks.
  2. Let the pods cool until they can be picked up. Use the stem to pull the string off the side of the pod. Pull out the beans and peel the light green skin off the darker green and extremely tasty bean inside. Sprinkle with a little salt and eat them all up!
Note: You can also shuck the beans raw, blanch them in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes and they pop out of their skin with a quick squeeze.

Now that you’ve met fava beans you can use them for lots of things. I like them in a beet and sweet lettuce salad with a really garlicky vinaigrette.

For that recipe, visit my blog

Saturday June 14th - October 4th
The Shoreline Farmers Market at Shoreline City Hall
Top level of the Parking Structure (Free Parking underneath)
17500 Midvale Ave N, Shoreline

Sunday May 11th - October 26th
The Lake Forest Park Farmers Market at Third Place Commons
Lower Level Parking Lot (Free Parking in surrounding spots and in the upper lot)
17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park

Greta Hardin is a science teacher, food nerd, and the author of Cooking Your Local Produce: A cookbook for tackling Farmers Markets, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and your own back yard.


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