Rumor has it that it was the fava bean that Jack used to grow his giant beanstalk in the favorite fairy tales. Not surprising since the fava bean stalk can grow over 6 feet tall! This ancient bean from Asia Minor was first cultivated way back in 6800 B.C. and has been written about by many greek philosophers.
Pythagoras thought that the beans resembled human head and feared the fava because he thought the beans contained human souls in them. Diogenese said that Pythagoras didn’t eat fava because it’s gassy nature “One should abstain from fava beans, since they are full of wind and take part in the soul, and if one abstains from them one’s stomach will be less noisy and one’s dreams will be less oppressive and calmer.” Ironically, fava beans are lower in indigestible sugars than other beans and actually cause less gas or bloating then more commonly used beans.
It’s spring here in Utah and the Mediterranean markets are full with fresh fava beans in the pods. Everytime I see a fresh batch, I always get an extra couple of pounds to send back east to my mom in RI. She can’t find the fresh fava as much in her markets. Both the pods as well as the beans inside can be cooked up in a variety of recipes.
If you are going to use the fresh beans, I always parboil the beans first to release the outer skin. It’s a matter of preference: My uncle just shells them, tosses them with lots of garlic, tomatoes and olive oil and slow cooks them until tender. Personally, I don’t like having to always spit out the extra seed pod casing.
To reach the tendermost parts of the fava, they must be double peeled. In a pinch, I will use the frozen double peeled beans from the Middle Eastern market’s freezer section. They make a lovely and easy dip that pops with it’s bright green color as well as it’s creamy flavor. Super easy to make: dump all the ingredients into a pot and let it cook down until its creamy.
Fava Bean Puree
- 2 cups Fava beans ( 1 package of frozen double peeled beans)
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1/2 bunch dill
Put the parboiled and peeled beans or bag of frozen beans in pot. Add the onion, olive oil, salt, sugar and enough water to cover them.
Cover and cook on medium heat until the beans are tender
Mash them while they are hot, place in bowl, sprinkle with chopped dill. Serve with slices of lemon