Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a seasonal spring treat. They have a distinct flavor and texture, buttery and nutty with a slight bitterness. High in iron, fiber and protein, they make a meatless meal a full one.
With a rainy weekend coming up it might be just the time to try these relatively labor-intensive beans. Don’t make the mistake our friend made – she boiled them whole and found them “stringy and chewy.” In order to prepare fava beans for cooking they must be shelled and skinned. To shell merely split the pod and extract the individual beans. To skin the beans, blanch them by dropping them briefly into boiling water. Then split the skin with a knife or your fingernails and peel.
Once you’ve prepared the beans, you can try them in a myriad of ways by tossing them in soups or salads or making an easy purée to spread on bread as an appetizer. Before you indulge, be aware that some people have a rare blood condition that causes ‘favism’ and prevents them from eating fava beans.
Fava Bean Spread
3 cups shelled fava beans
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring water to boil. Add fava beans and reduce to simmer. Cook 20 minutes. Remove beans with slotted spoon and place in food processor with butter, heavy cream and salt and pepper. Serve with fresh sliced bread.
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukin