100 Vegetables: #13 | Favourite Dishes to Make with Broad Beans (Fava Beans)

Broad Bean Salad with Asparagus, Olives and Black Garlic

Broad Beans, a little out of fashion except in Italian, Greek, Chinese, South American and Middle Eastern communities, are a speciality of Spring time. Once upon a time, before the green bean varieties came to Europe, Broad Beans were the beans. They are ancient and no one knows exactly where they came from. They are also often called Fava Beans.

Broad beans are synonymous with Spring, with their presence so fleeting. Here in Australia, that is from September through mid November. It is a great example of true seasonal vegetables. Catch them when harvested young and sweet, as towards the end of their season they can become very mealy. They have a flat, fur-lined pod enclosing seeds that are used in soups, purees, stews, salads, stir-fries and combined with rice and pasta.

Look for them in green grocers who cater for the Italian, Greek or Middle Eastern food requirements, as soon as Spring arrives. An acceptable alternative is frozen Broad Beans, and they can be found in the Supermarket, or in the freezer sections of Middle Eastern groceries. The benefit of the Middle Eastern ones over the supermarket ones is that the ones stocked by Middle Eastern stores have been double peeled. We will explain that later.

Explore our 100 Vegetable Series. Check out some of our other collections:

Broad Beans are encased in a green pod which is slightly downy. Crisp when young, the pods rapidly become limp when stored, and the picked edges (and any broken areas) oxidise quickly and blacken. Pods vary in length from a few centimetres, which is the benefit of growing your own, to 18 – 25 cms when sold fresh in the green grocers. The pods are a little dimpled or curvy, and contain 8 – 10 fleshy seeds which are the Broad Beans. The first broad beans of Spring are small and incredibly tender, and as the season progresses, they become larger, less tender, and less sweet. Both are wonderful additions to the table. Later on, once fresh broad beans have disappeared from the gardens and stores, dried fava beans are available – both small, young, peeled and split dried beans, and larger, tougher, unpeeled dried beans. With different flavours, both dried beans are worth searching for, and will most commonly be found in Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern shops.

The Joy of Young Broad Beans

The first Broad Beans, achingly tender, do not need to be podded. The whole bean, pod and all, can be topped and tailed and cut into lengths before being added to salads or pilafs. Indeed, the whole pods can be blended into a puree that is excellent on toast or as a sauce. These young pods need no cooking, but if you insist they can be blanched for 15 seconds or steamed very briefly. The joy of their nutty sweetness is unsurpassed.

Broad Beans with Fresh Pecorino

Selection of Broad Bean Pods

Once they are passed that baby stage, select pods that are a good pale green without blackening along the pod of the bean. Avoid ones that have large, white coloured beans, as these will be tougher and lend themselves more to soups and longer cooking than salads and brief cooking. Store them for a short time in a ventilated bag or glass container. Or pod them, blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute, peel each bean of its outer covering, and freeze them for later.

Preparation and Peeling of Broad Beans

Yes, Broad Beans take two steps in their preparation. First they are removed from their pod, then the seeds are briefly blanched in boiling water, and then the tougher outer skin is removed from each bean. A bright green, very tender inner bean is revealed and it is this that holds the magic of the Broad Bean taste. The beans are blanched to make this second step easier, and you will find that they will pop out of that tough covering. As a rule, a kg of whole broad beans yields about 350gm shelled beans.

The younger beans will need no further cooking, but if they are older, simmer them for up to 10 minutes – even longer for older tougher beans.

Very Young Broad Beans with Creamy Feta and Preserved Lemon

Allergies to Broad Beans

Unfortunately some people have a condition called favism,an allergy to raw broad beans that leads to anaemia and can render them toxic. Cooked broad beans do not have this reaction.

Buying and Storing Broad Beans

Choose crisp, moist and smaller (younger) beans whose pods are not bulging and do not have any spots and are not limp. They can be stored in the fridge for 2 or 3 days.

How to Use Broad Beans

The first broad beans of the season can be treated very simply. They are tender and sweet, so they can be served raw, blanched, steamed briefly or tossed on a hot griddle. Serve simply with sea salt, black pepper and a little olive oil. Toss them through some fresh pasta, and use them as a garnish over other dishes in the kitchen. Young whole pods, only around 5 or 6 cm long, can be served as they are or snipped into short lengths.

Once the first weeks of Spring pass, the beans will need a light cooking after the second peeling before using, but can be used as before. Pods are no longer young enough to puree as they are.

Older beans are wonderful in purees, soups and other dishes where they can cook for longer and the flavour – more mealy and less sweet – enhances the dish.

The season lasts 3 months in your garden if they are sufficiently cared for, and for less time in the shops – perhaps for 2 months.

Broad Bean Recipes


Salty Battered Broad Bean Pods

Salty Battered Broad Bean Pods

Broad Bean Patties

Broad Bean Patties

Broad Bean, Bulghar and Red Cabbage Kofta

Broad Bean, Bulgur and Red Cabbage Kofta


Broad Bean Salad with Asparagus, Olives and Black Garlic

Freekeh Salad with Broad Beans

Pasta and Pilafs

Pasta with Minty Broad Bean Puree and Crispy Garlic Chips

Side Dishes


Broad Bean Dip with Wilted Greens and Roasted Onions

Broad Bean Spread with Roasted Garlic Ricotta


13 Treasure Happiness Soup

Dried Broad Beans (Fava Beans)

There are many varieties of dried fava beans, from the tiny peeled and unpeeled ones to the very very large. I prefer the larger ones for soups, small or large for purees, and smaller ones for falafel.

Dried Fava (Broad) Beans

  • Large dried broad beans, whole, unpeeled and brown in colour – soak and peel before cooking
  • Large dried broad beans, whole, unpeeled and green in colour – soak and peel before cooking
  • Large dried broad beans, whole, unpeeled and black in colour – soak and peel before cooking
  • Small dried broad beans, whole, unpeeled and light brown in colour – soak, and they probably need peeling before cooking
  • Small, split and peeled broad beans – soak before cooking

Try these various Dried Fava Bean dishes.

Dried Fava Bean Salads and Dishes

Fava Bean Salad with Garlic and Dill

Garlic and Dill Fava Bean Salad (Broad Beans)

Dried Fava Beans with Garlic

Dried Fava beans with Garlic | Ful Bit-Tewm

Dried Fava Bean Soups

Dried Fava Bean Purees and Snacks


Welcome! I hope you are enjoying what you see here. Thank you so much for your comment and your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s