Eat More Fava Beans: Skip the Peeling & Sometimes Even the Shelling

Fresh fava bean season is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest. These last few weeks of school are also a particularly busy time which may have something to do with why I can’t be bothered to peel each individual bean. And when tender and small enough I just prepare and eat the whole pod. Italians, who know a thing or two about enjoying fava beans, often don’t peel them. So I’d like to make the case for more fava bean consumption this spring with less hassle.


If your beans are on the larger side, there’s always an Iranian method of cooking them–the whole pods are cooked in heavily salted water until they start falling apart. The resulting beans are tender and well seasoned and do not need peeling. So there! Skip the finicky peeling, enjoy the beans and more nutrients to boot!


Seared Young Fava Beans with Garlic Scapes and Lemon

In this dish I shelled some and left most in the pod and just cut them into bite-sized pieces. The combination of shapes and textures was delicious.

When you have young/small fava beans you can eat the whole pod, either grilled or just seared in a heavy skillet, in this case alongside some shelled ones and garlic scapes and scallions. The whole pod gets tender and when well seasoned with salt and lemon, is just delicious. You can cook them all whole or shell a few for contrast and fun-either way is delicious.


Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lb young, tender fava beans in their pods
1 bunch garlic scapes, cut into 2-inch lengths or 2-3 the stalks green garlic or 1 head new garlic, minced
3-4 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths (optional)
Juice from 1/2 lemon


If you have time, shell 1/3 of the fava beans and cut the remaining whole pods into 2-inch lengths. The combination of the shelled and whole favas is fun but not necessary, see headnote.


Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add the fava beans in their pods (if you shelled some you’ll add those a few minutes later), the garlic scapes and scallions, if using, sprinkle with salt and cook, covered and undisturbed for a few minutes. When they start browning give them a stir and continue cooking, stirring often, for about 3-4 more minutes. Add the shelled fava beans and cook for another couple of minutes. When the pods, beans and garlic scapes are tender remove from the heat. Taste and adjust with salt if needed and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Serve hot or warm.