Have you ever wondered, “What are fava beans?” You would not be the first.
But now, you can find out!
In this guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about this hearty legume.
From their unique taste to their intriguing backstory- I cover it all!
For instance, did you know fava beans are one of the earliest cultivated plants?
Want to learn more fun fava bean facts? Read on!
What Are Fava Beans?
Never heard of fava beans? They go by a different name in the States.
“Broad beans” is the regional title for these lumpy, green legumes.
Which makes sense, given they have a large, flat width.
This name is especially appropriate for fava beans cultivated in the wild. They grow inside large, wide green pods on a flowering pea plant.
A tough, clear skin encases the pods- which you remove before eating.
It is pretty labor-intensive to prepare fava beans, so other legumes are more popular.
In countries like the U.S.(with plenty of bean options), it is especially true.
But it was not always like that.
These beans hold a rich history as one of the earliest cultivated plants. You can even trace their history back to 6000 BCE.
This legume was a diet staple for the Greeks, Romans, and other Mediterranean regional groups.
Over the years, fava beans have made their way across the globe. Now, you’ll find them in Asian, Middle Eastern, South American, and African cuisines.
What Do Fava Beans Taste Like?
Now, if you’re anything like me, you want to know what these beans taste like.
These lumpy legumes taste buttery, delicate, and slightly nutty. They also have a light bitter note, giving it a mild vegetal flavor.
Many fava bean enthusiasts say its subtle earthy flavor makes it taste like spring.
And when cooked? Fava beans have a creamy, silky texture that melts in your mouth.
Dried fava beans have a more subdued flavor. Many compare their taste to dried chickpeas.
How to Prep Fresh Fava Beans
Preparing fava beans all depends on their age.
If you pick them while they’re young, you can consume them whole, pod and all.
But most times, you will want to remove the beans from the pod first.
The shelling process involves snapping off the stem of the pod. Then you pull the attached string to reveal the beans.
But you are not done yet.
Blanch fresh fava beans to remove the tough clear skin. Here’s how:
- Dump the beans into boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
- Then transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.
After blanching, you can pop open the skin to reveal the prized bean.
How to Cook Fava Beans
Fava beans boast immense versatility in the kitchen.
You can prepare them in every way imaginable. Whether boiled, steamed, mashed, or roasted, fava beans can handle everything.
But dried and fresh fava beans will yield different results.
The texture and flavor of dried fava beans work best in dishes like stews. Or any recipe where they have plenty of time to sit and soak.
Soups, falafel, and casseroles are fabulous options.
But fresh fava beans taste better sautéed, steamed, boiled, or fried. You can also add them raw to salads or pesto.
Since many claim fava beans taste like spring, this legume is a seasonal staple.
It shines in salads, quiches, and even pasta.
Imagine how delicious a citrusy asparagus and fava bean primavera would taste.
You also cannot go wrong with enjoying them raw for a protein-packed snack!
Where to Buy Fava Beans
Have I sold you this tasty bean yet? Good!
Some grocery stores will stock fresh fava beans during the spring.
Most likely, you’ll find them nestled in their long pods. Look for ones that are bright green and full from end to end.
Also, the pods make up most of the fava beans’ weight. A pound of pods only produces a cup of fava beans. So buy more than you think you need.
Unfortunately, fresh fava beans have a pretty short growing season. But do not worry if you miss your chance to buy them raw. You can always purchase dried or canned fava beans.
Most Middle Eastern and Greek grocery stores will carry dried fava beans. Some even have them frozen in the freezer section.
How to Store Fava Beans
You can store fresh, unshelled beans in the fridge for up to 2 days. Store them in a plastic bag or airtight container for best results.
You can also stick them in the freezer for up to 1 month. When you are ready to use them, let them defrost in the fridge overnight.
Store dried fava beans in an airtight container at room temperature. They will last up to 1 year.
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