Fava Bean Salad with Garlic and Olive Oil

Source: Linda Hillel, chef instructor

Recipe Type: | Seasons: ,

From April to June, when sweet young fava beans are in their prime, there’s no better way to showcase their unique flavor than in this truly simple preparation. Perfect as an appetizer or snack, these are meant to be eaten with your fingers. If the beans are small and tender, you can eat the pale green outer skins. On larger beans the skins are tougher and taste slightly bitter, but they’re easily removed by pinching the skins and squeezing the tender beans right into your mouth. Note: Some people have a rare genetic susceptibility to favism, a severe anemic reaction to a substance in raw or undercooked fava beans or their pollen. Cooking neutralizes the toxin.

Serves 6 to 8


2 pounds fresh fava beans
1 small clove garlic
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt 


Shell (but do not peel) the fava beans. Place the beans in a microwave-safe dish.

Press the garlic directly onto the beans. Add the oil and salt, and toss thoroughly. Cover and cook on high power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the beans are tender.

Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

Stovetop steaming method: Put the shelled fava beans in a vegetable steamer placed over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam until tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size and maturity of the beans. Drain and transfer the beans to a bowl. Toss with the garlic, oil, and salt.

The cushiony fava bean pods offer excellent protection for the beans nestled inside. This translates into good storage capability—favas will keep for up to 2 weeks stored in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator. About 1 pound of whole fava beans yields about 1 cup shelled beans, which yields about 1⁄2 cup peeled beans.

© 1999 Linda H. Hillel 

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