Fresh Fava Beans are a Delicious Sign of Spring

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Fresh Fava Beans
I've never been lucky enough to try fresh fava beans, although I did buy some once at the Ferry Building Market in San Francisco and leave them in the hotel when I checked out, but that's a completely different story. Even though I remain fresh fava deprived, I have no doubt they must be unforgettably delicious. How do I know? Legions of food bloggers have described the laborious process of double shucking the beans, and yet every spring these fava bean lovers start creating dishes featuring fava beans once again.

Fava beans, called broad beans in Europe, are available dried, canned, and frozen, but it's the fresh beans that foodies gush over each year. They're often a popular item at early farmers markets, where they come in large pods which can be deceptive, because it takes a lot of fresh beans to get enough for a recipe. Once you get them home, the beans must be stripped from the pods, then boiled long enough to remove the tough outer shell and shelled again. Plenty of people seem willing to go to the trouble though, judging from the food bloggers who've been using them lately. If you do happen to be lucky enough to stumble on some fresh favas, here are a few mouth-watering ways to use them.

Susan from Food Blogga has good instructions for shelling the favas, including photos, and a great recipe for Fava Bean and Dill Crostini to make once you get them shelled. Susan is a fava lover, who was excited at finding them at the farmer's market, and that's her fava bean photo at the top of the post.

There are more fava-shelling instructions at Blue Kitchen, where Terry rates the process as being somewhere in the middle on the difficulty scale, but the dish of Seasonal Fava Beans and Pasta certainly sounds delicious.

Fresh broad beans are the one vegetable she must cook immediately if she finds them in her vegetable box, says Helen from Food Stories in the U.K., and her version of Broad and Soy Bean Salad looks amazing.

There are many ways to express the love of fava beans, and Aria from Melonfish has personified her fava beans with little eyeballs, but don't let that stop you from trying her Crunchy Fava Bean Cakes.

You can substitute other vegetables if you're not up for double shucking the fava beans when you make the Spring Ragout from 101 Cookbooks, but Heidi used fresh fava beans when she made hers.

Sher from What Did You Eat shows how she grows her own fava beans, getting over 100 pounds of beans from a small plot. Her Braised Fava Beans with Shallots looks droolworthy too!

And finally, there is no recipe, but proof of the popularity of favas is the report found on Serious Eats that famous Italian cookbook author Lydia Bastianich cooked fava beans for the Pope during his recent trip to the U.S.

More About Fava Beans:
Wikipedia on Fava Beans
Fresh Fava Beans: A Little Spring On Your Plate from NPR.org

Blogher Food Editor Kalyn Denny also blogs at Kalyn's Kitchen, where she cooks plenty of beans, but no fresh fava beans so far.

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