Shelling Fava Beans

If you’ve been lucky enough to venture out to the farmers’ market, you may have found fresh fava beans—one of the most underappreciated spring veggie!

Though you can buy dried fava beans all year long, if you haven’t enjoyed them fresh, well, you’ve really barely experienced them. Fresh fava beans are brightly flavored, with that slightly grassy flavor that screams “spring!” They are tender and creamy, which makes them suitable as a side, an inclusion in pastas and salads, or pureed into a dip.

Since fresh favas are typically sold in their pod, they can feel more like a chore than a treat. Even more, each bean has an outer skin that also needs to be removed prior to using he beans in a recipe.

Clockwise from top: Fresh fava beans in the pod, fresh pods, dried fava beans, and fresh fava beans that have been cooked.

But, unlike lots of other kitchen tasks (we know, nobody likes peeling tomatoes!), taking the time to prepare fresh fava beans is well worth the effort.

When purchasing fava beans, look for pods that are not yellow or wrinkled; they can have some dark spots but the beans inside should be pale and plump.

To prepare the favas, shell the beans as you would peas in a pod, peeling the pod along the seed and letting the bean drop into a bowl below.

Shelling fava beans

Prepare an ice bath. In a large pot, bring enough water to cover the shelled fava beans to a boil. Lower the favas into the water and quickly bring it back to a boil. Allow the favas to boil for about 1 minute, then drain the beans and immediately submerge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Drain the favas and, using a paring knife, make a little cut along the side of each bean so that you can either peel it or squeeze the bean out.

Here are some of our favorite fava bean recipes to highlight your hard work!

Lamb Chops with Fava Beans

Trofiette with Lobster, Leeks, Zucchini, and Fava Beans

Minted Fava Beans

Fava Bean Purée