Fava Fail

Fava beans were one of those CSA surprises to which I looked forward since I’d never tried them, let alone seen one in action.  This, even though John, our friend Doug and I did our best to recreate Hannibal Lecter’s favorite meal when we watched Silence of the Lambs as part of a dinner, drinks, and a movie effort that enjoyably occupied much of my time residing in Cleveland and Salt Lake City (well, obviously we didn’t go so far as to get liver from the suggested source.) So lack of exposure is my excuse for this culinary failure.  However, I submit the following as a mitigating factor:


Don’t those beans look a bit old?  The beans arrived in this condition, large, spotted black in parts suggesting that perhaps they were over mature. But I was anxious to try out this new vegetable (hell, at least they weren’t another 2 lbs of green beans) and proceeded with my plan.

The CSA had instructed that sometimes the beans are difficult to remove from their shells, so boil them first and they should slip easily out.  They also suggested that if you didn’t want to go through the trouble of shelling them yourself, you could boil them, saute them in olive oil and garlic then let your dinner guests use their teeth to slip the beans out of their shell, similar, I’d suppose, to eating edamame. So I dutifully brought a pot of water to boil, and dumped in the above. The pods split easily… so easily that I wondered what all the fuss was about, revealing what I thought were the naked beans:

favapodsThese were kind of a sickly greenish grey color, sometimes with a black spot that was reminiscent of black eyed peas. Also– note that some of these have little sprouts on them– again, suggesting that these were maybe past their prime for eating.  Anyway, I thought that this was the bean in its intended eating form, so I sauteed them with a chopped slicing tomato and some minced fresh garlic in some olive oil as a side for some salmon.  It smelled delicious, but really, what doesn’t smell good when sauteed in olive oil and garlic? Despite my doubts about how old these beans looked, I was looking forward to eating this.

John and I sat down to dinner and tentatively took bites.  The bean meat was disagreeably mealy in texture but even more disturbing was that more often than not, the bean skin  was too tough to chew leading to frequent attempts to politely spit into a napkin.  I was halfway through the meal when it dawned on me that perhaps the boiling was meant to remove these skins not that big, easily splittable outer shell. Duh!  That fact was confirmed when talking with a friend who also gets shares from this CSA and who had fortunately knew to do a second skinning of the beans having seen them before.

Despite this disappointment, I wish we’d gotten more fava beans for experimentation. I not only want to try doing this dish right, but I would also like to try making a hummus-like dip out of these, maybe with some mint and lemon. Don’t worry– I’ll know how to properly shell them then!


  • 1 lb fava beans, properly shelled, you idiot!
  • 1 slicing tomato, chopped and seeded
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and salt. Dump in fava beans released from their outer pod and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and run cold water over them to cool to the touch. Slip beans out of their grey-ish skin and set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add beans and minced garlic, sauteing for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until tomatoes are heated through, releasing some juice but still retaining their structure. Salt and pepper to taste.

CSA Count: 3

Fava beans, slicing tomato, fresh garlic


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