Fava Beans, also known as "broad beans," are flat, green, oval beans that grow in large, inedible pods, with a translucent covering that should be removed before use. Dried, they are greenish-brown and have a meaty, starchy texture and a bold, earthy flavor.
Carefully sort beans and rinse thoroughly. Soak beans overnight, then squeeze each bean to remove the outer skin. Rinse and place in a large pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 2 hours. This bean produces foam, so skim the water regularly while cooking.
Storage & handling
Store in a dry, cool place.
Fava beans (Vicia faba), also commonly known as "broad beans," are a flat, oval, green bean that grows inside a large, inedible pod. A translucent skin also surrounds each individual bean and should be removed prior to use, especially in mature beans.
The Fava bean is thought to have originated in the Middle East and North Africa around 6000 B.C., and has been an important staple of the Eastern Mediterranean diet since ancient times. While it is a less widely known association, Fava Beans have been part of Chinese cooking since around 5,000 B.C., and are especially utilized in the Szechuan region, where they are called simply "Szechuan beans."
Today, Fava beans are widely cultivated all over the world, both as a cover crop for silage and for human consumption. The plant is very hardy, and can withstand harsh climates, but it prefers temperate and cool growing conditions. In the U.S., where it grows widely in temperate parts of the East and West Coasts, it ripens in mid spring and it is often considered a harbinger of warmer temperatures to come.
Fava beans are eaten all over the world in various ethnic cuisines, and have numerous culinary applications. When in season, the beans are popular to eat fresh in everything from salads and dips to sautés, pasta dishes and soups. Dried fava beans can be used in many of the same applications.
Fava Beans are commonly found throughout the Middle East. This recipe for ful medames, which is the national dish of Egypt, utilizes fava beans in their skins. Soak the beans overnight and the skins should slide off the fava beans.