Fava beans (also known as broad beans) are the king of all beans; their flavor is smoother, sweeter and richer than most other beans. And while they're growing in popularity, they still haven't become a staple spring-time ingredient in many kitchens.
Our suspicion is that it's because fava beans are a chore to peel -- and to some, it's a bit of a mystery figuring out how to get the actual bean out of the pod. In an effort to bring the joy of this big, green bean into more home recipes, here's a quick tutorial on how to get to the bottom of the bean. But first, a couple of things to keep in mind.
Fava beans, when in their pods, look like an overgrown sweet pea. You'll want to look for green pods -- and don't go for the ones that are bulging, which means they're older and might have a slightly bitter taste. Also, fava beans have to be peeled twice, which means you'll have to buy a lot more beans than you might think. One pound of un-peeled beans will give you roughly 1/3 cup of favas.
Now how to get to the bean:
- First, remove the beans from the pods (much like you would when shelling peas) by running a finger up the seam of the pod, splitting it open and removing the beans. There are about 4 to 5 beans per pod.
- At this point you'll notice that the bean has a thick white-ish skin around it which also needs to be peeled off. (Some people say that you can cook and eat the bean with the skin on, as long as it's really cooked through. Others feel that this takes away from the delicate flavor of the bean. Overall, it's more common to peel the second skin.)
- To remove the second skin, there are two different methods. The first is to make a small slit with a knife along the edge of the bean to pop the bean out of its skin.
- The alternate, and more popular, method is to put the fava beans in boiling salted water to blanch for 30 seconds. Remove the beans from the boiling water and submerge them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process. This step softens the second skin, making it easier to remove.
- With your fingers, squeeze the bean out from its skin.
- Now, you can use the beans as directed in any recipe of your choice.
For recipe inspiration using fava beans, check out our gallery.
Do you cook with fava beans? Leave a comment.