Vernal family farms fava beans


My colleague Mike Vernal recently invited us to his house and we were sent off with a bag of fresh fava beans. Nothing says spring better than fresh fava beans and English peas. I have quite a few English peas recipes (Risotto with English Peas, Linguine with English peas, preserved lemons, and pancetta, Chilled English peas soup, Spinach linguini with English peas, mozzarella and preserved lemon, Agnolotti dal plin stuffed with English peas and ricotta, English peas purée with mint and Bulgarian feta) but this is the first fava beans one.

serves: 4        difficulty: easy      prep time: 1 hr


  • 2-3 lbs fava beans
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup stock – chicken or vegetable
  • [optional] 1 tbs butter
  • 1/8 preserved lemon (if you have it)


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First you need to shell the fava beans.

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Fill a stock pot with water, add the same amount of salt as though you are cooking pasta (the water needs to taste of the sea), and bring it to a boil. Add the fava beans, and boil for 2 min. Take the fava beans out of the hot water and place them in an ice bath to cool them quickly.

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Then comes the most laborious process of shelling each individual bean. Fava beans have this light green waxy coating that needs to be removed. Fava beans are shaped like kidneys, and the technique that I have developed is to pinch the bean on the inside, and pull the coating off. The cleaned up fava beans will be intense dark green.

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Dice the shallot. Heat a sauce pan, and add the olive oil. Add the diced shallots and sauté until they start caramelizing – about 2 min. Add the fava beans, and sauté for 2 min. Add the stock, reduce the heat to medium, and let the fava beans boil until the liquid evaporates. Optionally you can add the butter while the fava beans are cooking. Season with salt and pepper but be careful with the salt if you are using the preserved lemon which is very salty.

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When the liquid evaporates taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Chop the mint and preserved lemons, and add them to the pan.

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Then stir everything together.

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And you are ready to serve the fava beans. In this case as a side dish to a rack of lamb.

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