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Spring Produce Primer

Everything You Need to Know About Fava Beans

Grilled Fava Bean Pods. © John Kernick

They might be a pain to prep, but fava beans are so, so good. The bright green beans (which are technically peas) are best eaten young when they’re still tender and sweet. So hurry to a greenmarket near you and stock up (after reading through this mini guide).

Where: Fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans) have a history of cultivation dating to 6000 BC in Mediterranean cultures. The plants are very hearty and can grow almost anywhere.

When: April through early July.

What to look for: Buy shiny, bright green pods that are on the smaller side. The pods should be free of any yellow spots.

Flavor profile: They are buttery, sweet and springy with a hint of walnuttiness. The younger they are, the sweeter they are. Older beans will be starchier.

Health benefits: Favas are high in protein, dietary fiber, iron and calcium. They are also one of the highest plant sources of potassium.

How to eat them: Fava beans have to be peeled and prepped before cooking. Open up the pod, remove the beans and blanch them for a couple of minutes. Drain them, then squeeze out the favas. Then they are ready to be pureed into a creamy spread for bruschetta, tossed into a crunchy spring salad, braised in a creamy chicken stew or stirred into a risotto. Of course, if you don’t want to go through the rigmarole of blanching and peeling the favas, you can always just grill them whole in the pod.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Green Garlic
Everything You Need to Know About Morels
Everything You Need to Know About Ramps

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