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Fava Beans

Fava Beans

In American cuisine, fava beans are making a comeback due to their freshness, smooth texture and mild, nutty flavor.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Fava beans are a good source of fiber, offering about 4.5 grams in ½ cup cooked serving.
  • Fava beans are also an excellent source of folic acid, which, (along with vitamins B6 and B12), plays a role in brain and nervous system health. Just 1/2 cup of cooked fava beans contain almost 25 percent of the folate your body needs for the day.

History

If there were a Bean Hall of Fame, fava beans would hold a place of honor. These legumes have been cultivated since ancient times. In fact, before explorers sailed to the New World, fava beans were the only bean eaten in Europe. It was only when Columbus brought back dozens of varieties that the fava fell out of fashion. However, this bean's star is on the rise again in the world of legumes. Did You Know?: Folklore scholars agree that the magic legumes said to have grown into Jack's beanstalk were almost certainly supposed to be fava beans.

Varieties

Fava beans go by many aliases. They are also known as broad beans, bell beans, field beans, horse beans, tick beans or pigeon beans. Their many varieties include such notables as Windsor beans, English beans and Lindsay beans.

When are Fava Beans in Season?

These springtime legumes peak between March and August.

How to Choose Fava Beans

Fresh fava beans are typically sold in the pod, which looks like a large (i.e. six-inch-long) version of a string bean. Good fava pods have no breaks, brown spots or scars. Try to buy pods that don't appear to be bulging, since their beans may be a bit older.

How to Store Fava Beans

Fava beans can be placed in a resealable plastic bag and kept in the refrigerator for about a week.

How to Prepare Fava Beans

They can be a little labor-intensive, but fava beans are worth the work. To start, grab the end of the pod, snap it and tug. This reveals a thin string, which you can pull to split open the pod, revealing the large, lumpy beans within. In the pod, fava beans are surrounded by a soft white material, making them look like they were packed in cotton. Pop them out. Each bean is covered in a waxy shell, which you'll have to remove before eating. To do so, bring water to boil in a saucepan, and drop the beans in for just one minute, then drain. This will parboil the beans, which loosens their coverings and allows you to shell them one at a time. Dispose of the shells, and it's time to cook the beans, usually by boiling or steaming.

Key Measurements

Most fava bean recipes call for them in whole cups.

Substitutions

If you'd like to swap in a slightly different legume, try using lima beans or chickpeas, since they both have a slightly sweeter taste than the mildly bitter fava bean.

Fava Beans in Recipes

Try substituting fava beans for the lima beans in these classic recipes:

Related Recipes

Reviews & Comments

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