Learn how to cook fava beans using the blanching method. Check out this step-by-step guide for how to remove them from their pod, cook, and peel. These protein and fiber-packed legumes are delicious to add to your diet.
Fava beans, also called broad beans, are a popular ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Open one up and you’ll find big, flat, oval-shaped green legumes nestled inside. They are much larger in size compared to those round sweet peas you find in the frozen aisle. The flavor is complex- earthy, slightly bitter, sweet, yet has a tender and buttery texture when cooked.
They hit their peak season in the springtime, but they’re also sold dried for yearlong use. To enjoy the flavor, there’s just a little prep work to do unless you like to eat them raw. This guide will have you prepping, cooking, and adding them to various dishes in no time. These colorful healthy legumes instantly add a nutritional boost to any appetizer, salad, side dish, or soup.
Step 1: Shell the beans
The legumes reside inside a thick, fibrous, inedible fava bean pod. There are two ways to open it up. The first is to break the tip off the stem end, then pull the thin string to “unzip” the pod. The second method is to use a paring knife to make a shallow cut down the seams.
Then open the pod and remove the beans, there are typically 4 to 5 inside. There will be a white skin on the outside still, you will cook the beans with these on to make them easier to peel off later.
Step 2: Blanch the beans
To quickly tenderize the beans, add them to salted boiling water. Fill a medium-sized saucepan halfway with cold water. Cook them until the beans under the skin are bright green color and soft. The time will vary depending on the size and the desired level of doneness. If you want them parboiled to add to another dish or fully cooked, the process could take between 1 to 5 minutes.
Step 3: Chill the beans
Immediately stop the cooking process by transferring them to a bowl of ice water. Remove the beans once completely cool, about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Remove the skins
You’ll notice that the beans will still have a waxy, white translucent covering, sort of like a protective sheath that surrounds it. This layer can taste slightly bitter and fibrous, but totally edible.
To make them more palatable, I recommend removing the outer skins before eating. To do this, carefully use your nail to begin peeling it off, then use your fingertips to pop them out. Now you can use the peeled fava beans in your preferred culinary application.
Selecting and storing
Fava beans are a springtime delight that sticks around until summer in cooler environments. Select bright green pods that are free from yellow and brown spots. Smaller beans are sweeter and tender, while the larger ones have a starchy taste.
Store them in an open plastic or paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. It’s best to wait to shell them right before cooking. Shelled beans last in an airtight container chilled for up to 3 days.
How many beans do the pods yield?
It depends on the age of the vegetable. I’ve seen a variation of sizes between pods from small to large, and a mix from just one batch. One pound of fresh fava beans yields approximately a little more than ½ cup of shelled beans (on the lower end), up to 1 cup. The yield will depend on the harvest.
Ways to use fava beans
- Add it to hummus
- Stir it into lentil soup
- Use them in a greek salad
- Saute or drizzle them with olive oil, then add some lemon juice, salt, and pepper for a simple side dish.
Cooking dried fava beans
Dried fava beans stored in the pantry are perfect for using on a whim. Treat them just like any other type of bean, and soak them for 8 to 24 hrs completely submerged in water at room temperature beforehand. Alternatively, do the quick soak method for cooking and eating the same day.
How to Cook Fava Beans
- 1 pound (454 g) fava beans, fresh
- Water, as needed for boiling and chilling
- 1 teaspoon salt, for seasoning water
- Ice, as needed for chilling
- Remove the fava beans from the pod by carefully breaking the tip off the stem end and pulling it down the pod. Use your fingers to open up the pod along the seams to remove the beans. Alternatively, make a shallow cut down the seams using a paring knife, being careful not to cut the beans.
- Fill a medium-sized saucepan halfway with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once the water is boiling add the beans to the water. Cook for 1 minute for a quick blanch to add to other dishes. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, depending on size, for a fully cooked and creamy textured bean.
- Immediately transfer the beans to a medium bowl filled with ice water. Chill until completely cool, about 5 minutes.
- Use your nail to begin the peeling, then your fingertips to gently pop the beans out of their white-colored skin and discard.
- Eat the beans or use them in a salad, soup, stew, sauce, appetizer, or side dish.
- Yield: 1 pound of fresh fava beans yields approximately 1/2 to 1 cup of beans depending on the harvest.
- Serving Size: 1/4 cup cooked fava beans. Nutritional information based on this amount.