Fava Beans: Worth the Work

Fava beans start to appear in the markets here in Northern California in early Spring. By the end of April, the pods are plump and full which is how you want them to be if you are going to commit to the time it takes to prepare them.

fava beans

It takes about 1 1/2 pounds of pods to end up with a heaping cup of fava beans. They are the only legume that you first have to remove from their pods and then you have to peel the tough outer coating on each bean. If you catch them early enough in the season, they are tender enough to eat without completing this step, however the trade-off is they are so small that you have to shuck a lot more to begin with!

It’s not hard, just time-consuming, but worth it for the tiny green taste of Spring in each fava bean. As you are shucking the bean pods, bring a small pot of water to a boil. After you have removed all of the favas from their pods, place the beans in the boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds. Drain and immediately place in ice water to stop the cooking and to keep their bright green color from fading. Next, squeeze each fava between your thumb and your forefinger to remove the tough outer coating. The tender bean inside will pop out.

Here is a recipe for tabbouleh  a lemony bulgur salad traditionally tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and herbs–made even better by the addition of fresh fava beans on top.

Fava bean bulgur


Fava Beans: Worth the Work
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Recipe type: Taboulleh with Fava Beans
Serves: 8 as a side dish

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ pounds fava beans, shucked and tough outer skins removed
  • 1⅔ cups bulgur
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped mint
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions

  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 3 teaspoons of the olive oil and bring to a boil. Put the bulgur in a large heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let stand, covered with tinfoil, for 25 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a sauté pan. Add fava beans and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until just cooked.
  3. To the bulgur, add the remaining 3 teaspoons olive oil, the lemon juice, the remaining teaspoon salt, the pepper, mint, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, and green onions, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Top with the fava beans, and serve at room temperature or chilled in the refrigerator.






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