I Shucked My Fava Beans. Now What?

Fava beans in their pods. Photo: Zachary D Lyons.

Fava beans in their pods. Photo: Zachary D Lyons.

We understand. Fava beans are not the most intuitive of vegetables. After all, at first glance, they look like extra large sugar snap peas. Hold one in your hand, and you'll know right away it's a different specimen; the fava pod feels slightly furry. Zip it open along its seam (some folks call this shucking), and you'll discover an almost wooly lining and several large beans nestled inside.

Keep going; you'll need to shuck a pound of fava pods to get about 1 1/4 cups of beans (enough for 4 to 5 servings). But before you call it dinner, there's one more step to fava prep: Skinning the beans. The easiest, most time efficient way to do this is to drop the beans into some boiling water. Let the water return to a boil. Then parcook the beans for about 90 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Pry open with a finger nail, and the beans should yield to the pressure. You'll notice that the skin, once waxy, now has an almost rubbery feel that is reminiscent of those old-school office thumbs.  Now in your midst is a pile of emerald green beans ready for action! (P.S. You can shuck and peel a whole bunch and put in freezer for later.)

Anatomy of a fava bean.

Anatomy of a fava bean.

From this point, you can eat them as is, with salt, lemon and grated Parm or Pecorino and pop'em in your mouth. You can toss them into into a green salad. You can also cook them for a few minutes in butter or olive oil, with a little garlic or thinly sliced onion, and stir into a bowl of elbow macaroni.  Mash'em up with ricotta cheese and spread on toast, and call it a very good day.

Also known as the broad bean, the fava is packed with nutrients. Just 1/2 cup of shelled beans  (a good serving size) contains more than 6 grams of protein and more than 4 grams of fiber. The fava is a good source of iron, potassium and folate ( a B vitamin that supports the nervous system and a particular nutritional boost for pregnant women) 

Several Ballard farms are flush with favas:  Alvarez Farms, Growing Washington,  Nash's Organic ProduceOne Leaf Farm and Stoney Plains Organic Farm. Get'em whiel they last!