I learned how to cook fava beans like this from my friend Carol (of Ayers Creek Farm fame). Favas are a spring/early summer treat in our region and are only in the markets for a few weeks. They are often overlooked because most preparations have you shell them, then cook the beans and then peel each individual bean. And while the result is definitely worth it, it is a more labor intensive and time-consuming process than most veggies require. So since I learned the below method I enjoy far more favas each year than I used to.
You literally cook the favas, big squishy pods and all in a large pot of heavily salted water until the individual beans start following out of the pods and then you don’t peel the individual beans. So if you like fava beans and wish you used them more, make this and report back. Curious to hear if you love it as much as I do.
Fava Beans with Cilantro, Yogurt and Lemon
Carol Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm told me about this method of cooking fava beans which eliminates the time consuming step of peeling each individual bean. This is an Iranian way of cooking favas.
2 pounds fava beans in their pods
¼ cup kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup Greek yogurt or plain, whole milk yogurt (or more if you want it saucier)
1/3 – 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (can use a few tablespoons of chopped mint instead)
1 -2 teaspoons lemon juice (to taste)
zest of one lemon, finely grated
1 medium clove garlic, minced (or 1 stalk green garlic, minced)
1 tablespoons olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place your whole fava bean pods in a six-quart pot (or slightly larger). Fill the pot three-quarters full of water or until the favas are just covered. Add the salt (it seems like a crazy amount of salt but I promise it turns out just fine) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the water stays at a rapid simmer and cook covered, until the pods start falling apart, between 20 and 30 minutes. Drain and fill pot of beans with cold water. This allows you to extract the beans more quickly. You can also just drain and let sit until cool. Remove beans from pods. There is no need to peel each individual bean. The skin should be tender and the beans perfectly seasoned. Toss beans with the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Enjoy as a side dish or on crusty bread or tossed with cold pasta for a hearty salad.
Fava beans cooked this way (and without the dressing) are delicious with pasta and a bit of parmesan, with boiled potatoes and parsley. I’ve added them to Israeli couscous with some mint and grated, hard cheese (Asiago Stella, I think).