Spring Fava Bean Fennel Salad

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 24 Comments

  • Garrett

    This salad was crazy tasty and fresh. Plus, fava beans, while a bit of work, are well worth the effort. It’s always nice to have a few friends around to make it less of a chore and more of an edible project to bond over. =)

  • Sommer

    Just visited Athens, Greece where I tasted the most amazing Fava bean “Hummus”. It was like a regular hummus, only with Fava beans instead of chickpeas. I plan to make my own version soon.

  • Dominique (de vous à moi...)

    I don’t mind spending time preparing fresh fava beans! it’s so good… I’ll try your combination with fennel, it looks delicious. I like to combinate fava beans with fresh green asparagus, cooking them separately before, and at least in a hot pan with good olive oil, 1 or 2mn, serving with shavings of “parmesan”… Mmmm!

  • Teresa

    fava beans in Italy are eaten in many different ways.
    In the Rome Lazio area they like the young tender favas eaten raw (shelled) with bite size chunks of pecorino cheese and fresh crunchy bread.
    You should try dried fava beans (overnite in cold water) then cooked with a bit of salt ultill its rendered puréed with some olive oil or use mixer)
    Eat with a side dish of wild greens sauted with olive oil and garlic and/or hot peppers fried in olive oil and garlic.
    I like it best with homemade pasta, seasoned with olive oil where you have sauted some garlic and hot pepper.
    Try and let me know.
    Love your site I control it every day for your wonderful receipes

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