Fava beans, a rewarding cool-weather garden crop also called broad beans, have two lives. They’re delicious picked fresh and stripped from their bumpy green, inedible pods, then gently steamed, and served with butter. As the season progresses and the pods have dried, remove the beans and let them dry completely in a warm, airy space. These are the beans we pull out on crisp fall days, soak, then boil up with bacon, onion, and maybe jalapeños, cooking the mixture down with additions of tomato paste and a little mustard just to the moment before the beans split and turn to mush.
Because they’re bigger and meatier than most shell beans, favas make a surprise addition to baked beans and other casseroles. Pureed, they’re a healthy and hearty base for creamed soups. They’re wonderful fresh, stir fried with greens and red bell pepper. Cooked dried favas, drained and run through a food processor, make a good base for dips and bean burgers.
Fresh, young fava beans are a good substitute in any recipe calling for lima beans.
All heirloom seeds offered by Planet Natural are non-treated and non-GMO.View all
Planet Natural offers heirloom fava bean seeds that are non-treated, non-GMO and NOT purchased from Monsanto-owned Seminis. Planting instructions are included with each packet and shipping is FREE! Need growing advice? Visit our vegetable guides for tips and information on specific types.
Picking fava beans for fresh eating: The earlier fresh fava beans are harvested, the sweeter their flavor. Also, young favas don’t have much of a skin to contend with. (If they do, blanch the fresh beans for a couple minutes or more in boiling water, then cool and slide skin off with thumbs.)
Don’t let the pods get too gnarly before picking. Pods that are soft or show black color at their ends should be inspected. Break open the pod. If the white, fleece-like lining of the pod is still moist, the beans inside should be fine.
Drying fava beans: Allow pods to grow to maturity and yellow, 80-90 days in most areas. Pick before the pods grow black in particularly moist areas. Beans harvested like this will need more time out of the pod to dry.
If no moisture is expected, allow the pods to turn black (the black color can be a sign of mold or rot if conditions are particularly damp). Beans may be completely dry and ready for storage Dry slowly, if needed, on screens or cookie sheets in a space with low humidity and good air circulation. Food dehydrators work well as long as the heat is kept down.
The skin of the fava bean will show signs of wrinkling once beans are sufficiently dry.
Cooking dry fava beans: Soak beans until the skin loosens, one to three hours or more. Remove skins as possible (a time-consuming and not-easy task requiring sturdy thumbs). Cover with water in a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered for one to two hours until soft but not mushy.
Beans may be cooked unsoaked but will take more than twice as long to become tender.
Fava Bean Succotash
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups fresh fava beans
- 1 cup corn, cut from cob or frozen
- 1 cup sliced okra, fresh or frozen
- 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (15 -20) cut in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
Sauté the onion in the oil or butter until just tender than add beans, jalapeño, and corn. (If using frozen corn, drain well and add with the tomatoes.) Cook until beans soften but without cracking skin. Add okra and tomatoes and cook slowly for three to five minutes without allowing beans to turn mushy.
Variations: add 1/2 cup sliced green olives during the final minutes of sautéing.
Fava Bean Hummus
- 2 cups fresh fava beans or 1 cup dried, soaked one hour
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon sesame tahini or raw sesame seeds, ground (food processors or blade-type coffee grinders work well)
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 -3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or less, to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- pinch cayenne
In a pot, cover the beans, shallot, garlic, and salt with cold water. Bring to a boil then simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until beans are very soft (if using dry beans, simmer for 45 minutes, adding water as needed). Drain the beans saving a half cup of the liquid. Place the beans, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, and paprika in a food processor and process until smooth, using some of the liquid if necessary. Once smooth, drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running. Hummus will thicken as it cools in the refrigerator. Serve with pita bread. Stores three to five days refrigerated.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 lb Italian sweet sausage, cooked
- 1 cup dried fava beans
- 24-ounce can of crushed Roma or other sauce tomatoes (Have home-made sauce? Even better).
- 1 small, sweet onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian herb blend
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 cup shredded parmesan or romano cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Soak the beans for one hour, then place them in a pot with the salt and enough cold water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 40-45 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside. Sauté the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in the live oil until soft. Add the herbs and sauté a minute more, then add tomatoes and favas and simmer for ten minutes. Add sausage, sliced, and turn off heat. Oil a large covered casserole. Add half the cheese and half the breadcrumbs to sauce, stir, and pour into the casserole. Cover with the remaining cheese and bread crumbs and bake covered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until sauce bubbles and topping turns golden. After removing from oven, allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.