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In Favor of Favas

The green, pod-like treasure has gotten a bad rap, but Bay Area chefs are bringing it back



If you’ve avoided fava beans since Hannibal Lecter recommended pairing them with human liver and “a nice Chianti,” it’s time to reconsider. Chefs have been easing fava beans back into soups and ragouts in recent years, combating Hollywood associations and diners who confuse the legumes with the often-dreaded lima.

If you take the time to remove the bitter outer shell of favas, the nutty flavor and smooth texture of the baby beans go perfectly with duck, asparagus and peas in spring risotto, or pureed in a spread with shallots, garlic, and mint on bruschetta, says Va de Vi Executive Chef Arnold Pulido.

Fava greens have also snuck into salads and soups, says Kristie Knoll, co-owner of Knoll Farms in Brentwood, with her partner, Rick. At first, the Knolls planted fava beans only as a soil builder.

“Then, one day, Rick was walking through the farm and he picked a handful of leaves and ate them,” Kristie says. She likes to place slivered fava greens in the bottom of a bowl and pour soup over them to wilt the ribbons of greens.

Find fava beans at local farmers markets toward the end of this month. The greens are available throughout spring.

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