Spring Fava Bean Fennel Salad

Fresh fava bean salad with sliced fennel, mint, scallions, and Parmesan.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Fava beans are a gardener’s dream. The come up early in Spring, they’re easy to grow, and their roots fix nitrogen in the soil, helping to prepare the soil for vegetables planted later in the season. They are delicious, though you do have to work for it. Unless very young, the beans need to be shucked twice, first before cooking to remove the bean from the pod, and then after cooking to remove the tough outer membrane from the bean. Garrett was over the other day to help pick and shuck and we made this lovely spring salad with fava beans from my garden. Fennel and Parmesan are one of those weird but wonderful flavor combinations that work great alongside fava beans and mint .

We still have plenty of favas growing in our garden. Do you have a favorite way of preparing them? (Hold the Hannibal Lector quote, thank you.) If so, please let us know about it in the comments.

Spring Fava Bean Fennel Salad Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.


Whole and shelled fava beans

  • 2-3 lbs fresh fava beans (also called broad beans), yielding about 1 1/2 to 2 cups shelled beans
  • Salt
  • 1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced (mandoline works well for this)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced
  • 10 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade by stacking leaves and rolling them into a cigar shape, cut thin slices from the end)
  • 2 scallions (green onions), sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Fava beans need to be shelled twice, first before cooking to remove the outer pod, then after cooking, to remove the tough membrane around the bean. To remove the outer pod, work over a large bowl and squeeze the bean with your fingers, bending the pod so that when it snaps, the bean inside shoots out into the bowl. Remove all the beans from their pods.

Fava Beans Fava Beans

2 Add the beans to 2 quarts of boiling, salted water. Simmer the beans for a few minutes, until just tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the beans from the pan and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, and to shock the beans into a bright green color. Let the beans sit in the ice water for a minute or two, then drain them and remove the outer peel.

3 In a bowl combine the freshly peeled and cooked fava beans, the sliced fennel, and onions. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Squeeze some lemon juice over the the salad (about a tablespoon), add the Parmesan and mint, and toss to mix. Garnish with fennel fronds and/or mint sprigs.

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Fava beans growing in our garden

Fava bean dip with goat cheese and garlic and Shaved fennel salad from here on Simply Recipes
Grilled fava beans from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks
Fava bean salad with red onions from A Mingling of Tastes
Pasta with favas, tomatoes, and sausage from Deb of Smitten Kitchen
Bulgur pilaf with fava beans from Fethiye of Yogurtland
The incredible shrinking fava bean from Marc of Mental Masala

Showing 4 of 21 Comments

  • See

    Thank you so much for this recipe. Made this salad twice already from our harvest of fava beans, so delicious !

  • Bilge

    Here is a Turkish take on fresh fava beans in the pod. Saute chopped onion in olive oil until soft, add fava beans (chopped to bite size), add peeled and diced tomatoes, salt, peper, just enough water to cook until beans are soft. Add plenty of chopped dill at the end of cooking. Serve with yogurt/garlic sauce.

  • Danielle

    I grew up on fava beans, and to this day, if there’s a farmer’s market within 50 miles, my aunts will pile into a car and find them, waxing poetic about the joy of the bean the entire way.

    My mom popped in sometime last winter with a glut of dried fava beans for me, and I whizzed them into a soup which was hearty, creamy, and delicious. It freezes quite well. Here’s the link: http://sweetvinegar.blogspot.com/2008/07/fava-bean-greens-soup-with-ciabatta.html

  • marcia

    This sounds wonderful, but I have not seen fava beans yet. I’m going to try this with ‘green soy beans’ (edamame) that I have in my freezer that I buy along with dumplings when I am in New York’s chinatown. I’ll also use ramps that are coming in really good now on my property, mint is also up, fennel, cheese & lemons on hand in the frig. I think I will start this salad right now, love this site!

  • Elisa

    This salad looks delicious. I was wondering if shelled edamame might work just as well as fava beans, as I alway keep frozen shelled edamame on hand (makes a great movie-night snack!) Perhaps other beans or peas would also work?

    Edamame beans should work fine. Spring peas would be good too. ~Elise

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Spring Fava Bean Fennel Salad