Fava beans, largely available only at Farmer’s Markets are great for making pesto, putting on salads, or in a multitude of other dishes. They have a unique flavor (I’ve seen it described as earthy, nutty, and slightly bitter — but it’s difficult to really describe them in my opinion.), and are a gorgeous vivid green. They are a pretty low yield when you compare the raw materials to the final product, but they are very high in protein, and it doesn’t take massive amount of them for a lot of flavor. One pint of bean pods seems to yield about 3/4 cup of shelled, peeled beans if most of the beans in the pods are good.

Fava beans in the pod, removed peels, resulting beans

Rinse the fava bean pods (picture 1), and then remove the individual beans from the pods.  Drop the beans in boiling water for about 2 minutes, and then remove them with a slotted spoon, and put them in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.  Once they have cooled, peel off the outer covering (picture 2) of the fava beans (you can usually just rip the end and then squeeze the beans out).  The resulting beans should be a vivid green color at this point (picture 3). Use them right away, or dry them well, and then store in the refrigerator for a day or two. You can also freeze them at this point, and they will keep for several months.


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