Monday, June 25, 2012

How to Shell Fava Beans

Let's be up front about it -- fava beans are a pain. But a more delicious pain I have rarely encountered. I won't tell you that they're "worth all the work", because, delicious as they are, I probably wouldn't buy them if left to my own devices, but they keep popping up in my CSA basket so I thought I would show you all how I go about preparing them. Click through for the skinny!

Out of a pound of fava beans, I usually end up with about one cup of beans after removing the outer pod, which gets reduced to about 3/4 cup after you remove the shell around each individual bean.

I didn't get shots of the early steps, but they're not so hard to imagine.

First, you split open the pods and remove the beans. I like to grab the pods right near the top and pull them apart with both hands, like you would a cereal bag, but any old way will do. You'll get into a rhythm.

Once that's done, set some water on to boil in a small saucepan. Just enough to cover the beans will do, but don't put the beans in the water just yet.

When the water is boiling, toss in the beans and cook for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath to shock the beans after cooking. I use my sieve set into my 4 cup liquid measure filled with ice water. After 3 minutes, scoop the beans into the ice bath. (I use a slotted spoon.) Toss them around a bit to be sure that all the beans get cooled off.

Now comes the fun part.
Use your thumbnail to dig into the bottom of the bean, being careful not to pierce the bean itself (though I often do end up snagging it just a little). Like so:

Then gently squeeze the top of the bean so it slides out of the shell and into your waiting bowl. Here's a little demonstration:

Now you're all set to enjoy your beans. I like mine sauteed with a little butter, salt and pepper, maybe some herbs if I'm in the mood. They're great as a side on their own, or they taste delicious in a pasta primavera or quinoa salad.

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