Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

Tricks to make most of late fava beans

Recipe: Roman-inspired fava beans are good as side dish or on crostini

Late-season fava bean pods are long and fat. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Our mild (and wet) spring elongated the season of one cool-weather favorite: Fava beans.

I’m still picking favas and I know I’m not alone. By late season, favas produce huge pods, 6 to 8 inches long and fat as thumbs. As big as they are, these pods contain only four or five beans. It usually takes 2 pounds of pods (or more) to produce 2 cups of beans.

Favas rank among the most time-consuming beans to prepare. First they must be shelled. Then, the individual beans should be skinned, especially when fully mature. (The skin has a bitter aftertaste.)

Those big pods yield this many beans. They still need to be skinned.

But the result – the naked, emerald-green inner bean -- melts in your mouth.

To remove the skins, use this method: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Plunge shelled beans into the boiling water. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the beans from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Wait a few minutes, then peel the beans. Use your thumbnail or a paring knife to nick the bean’s skin, then the skin will slip right off.

Even with this trick, expect it to take 20 minutes or more to peel 2 cups. Is it worth the effort? If you love favas, yes!

This is my favorite way to cook fava beans. Besides serving as a side dish, it also doubles as fava spread for crostini.

The romaine lettuce blends with the bright green of the beans and provides some extra moisture as the vegetables cook. If substituting scallions, use the green parts, too; it just intensifies the green.

To be truly Roman-style fava beans, add ½ cup chopped prosciutto with the beans. Otherwise, consider these favas Roman-inspired.

These are shelled, skinned and ready to cook.

Roman-inspired fava beans
Makes 4 side-dish servings


2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion or scallions, finely chopped
2 cups shelled and skinned fresh fava beans
4 or 5 grinds freshly ground pepper
1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent.

Add shelled and skinned fava beans. Sauté, stirring often for 2 minutes. Grind pepper over beans and stir in lettuce.

Ready to serve.
Add water and cover; bring to boil. Turn heat down to simmer and cook until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Salt to taste (if at all).

Note: Mash leftover beans and use as spread on crostini.


0 comments have been posted.

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


Taste Spring! E-cookbook


Find our spring recipes here!

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Thanks to our sponsor!

Be Water Smart

Local News

Ad for California Local

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

Contact Us

Send us a gardening question, a post suggestion or information about an upcoming event.