The reputation of fava beans got much darker after Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter confided in The Silence of the Lambs, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
That’s a rather grim image to bring up at the dinner table, but it did give fava beans their 15 minutes of fame.
Some people may know fava beans by another name: broad beans. They look like super-wide green beans with mumps. Inside the tough pod are 3 - 5 large beans. To get to the edible part, you’ve got to remove the tough covering on the bean itself. Some people like to boil these beans for 60 seconds and then slip the skin off. Others use a knife to cut into the skin and then pull it off. Once this skin is gone, simply boil the beans for 2-3 minutes, drain and eat.
Preparing fresh fava beans is more work than shelling fresh peas or trimming green beans, but how often do you find a new vegetable to serve?
On the down side, fresh fava beans are primarily available between March and June, mostly in specialty stores. I bought some yesterday at Jons Marketplace in Redondo Beach for $1.79 a pound. I’m going to add them to Shakshuka.
Don’t substitute dried fava beans for fresh ones, which can be cooked in just a few minutes.