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

View Comments / Leave a Comment


  1. 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. =)

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. Gilly

    I live in Israel, where fava beans are very popular. When their season arrives, the markets are full of mountains of them. So – There are many interesting things you can do with fresh fava beans. My personal favorite –

    Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Fava Beans

    Ingredients :
    4 sweet potatoes
    1/4 cup of cream
    salt, black pepper

    olive oil
    2 cloves of garlic, sliced
    300 grams of fava beans – can be unpeeled
    1 branch of fresh thyme
    1/4 cup of lemon juice
    1/4 tsp of cumin

    1. Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water until soft. Mash and add cream gradually while mashing.
    Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

    2. Shuck the fava beans and cook them in boiling water for about 10-12 minutes.

    3. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the fava beans and the thyme and cook for another three minutes. Now add the lemon juice, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

    4. Place the fava beans on top of the mashed sweet potatoes.
    You can also make a hollow ring with the mashed potatoes and place the fava beans in the middle.

    The color combination is gorgeous, and the flavor is amazing

    Enjoy :)

    What a terrific combination, thank you for sharing! ~Elise

  6. Sarah

    Mmh, that looks delicious. Funny. I just had the first Fava beans in my life the other day and it was so so good. Thought about making a nice dish myself and here you come with this wonderful recipe. Thanks for sharing, Elise.

  7. moonvirgo

    I take steamed fava beans and toast them in butter with parsley and lemon. I also like to add them in with my chicken sausage ragout — chicken sausage out of the casings and sliced, canned tomatoes, sliced onions, minced garlic, favas sliced in half that have been steamed, and parsley — served with the pasta of your choice.

    I’ve never “cooked them twice”. I’ve removed the pods and then also removed the waxing outer coating on the bean with a paring knife.

  8. The Italian Dish

    Beautiful! Your salad looks great. The Italians like to eat raw, young fava beans with a slice of pecorino cheese. And to retain the most brilliant shade of green, Chef Thomas Keller makes his cooks peel the beans before they cook them. That’s even more work.

  9. Darby "The Dessert Diva"

    Being from a Portuguese family, we were served a special dish on Christmas Eve called Favish. This was a Fava Bean soup if you will with spices and port wine and linguica. It took me many years to aquire a taste for it, but I believe now I have. I have the honor of preparing this dish for my famiies Christmas Eve meal now, although finding the beans is getting to be a harder and harder task for me. Growing my own might just be the way to go, but up here on Coastal Oregon, wonder if I have the right weather for it?

    Hi Darby, would that soup use fresh or dried fava beans? ~Elise

  10. Abby

    I’ve never eaten favas; down here the lima reigns supreme.

    Do they have a similar taste and texture?

  11. Bean Lover

    I LOVE favas but heard at some point in my cooking career that they can be deadly for some people. Has this been disproved?

    I think some people are allergic to them like some people are allergic to peanuts or shellfish. ~Elise

  12. Neomi

    As an Iranian, I have to recommend our traditional recipe of fava beans and Dill rice. There is a great recipe in “New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies” by Najmieh Batmanglij, which is a great intro to Persian cooking.

    Thanks for the blog and beautiful photos.

  13. Emily


    Last night, we made a delicious smashed fava bean and mint puree over toast. Topped it with a poached egg. Yummy! You can check it out on my page if you like.
    By the way, I’ve loved your blog for a long time, and always look forward to your new posts.


  14. Darby "The Dessert Diva"

    Hi Elise…

    Your question has spawned a couple of generations worth of family feuds…lol. Whose Favish is better, whose is the original and whose do we make? We have 2 recipes that have traveled down the line through the years. My Grandmama’s recipe uses fresh fava beans, and my Aunt Theresa’s version uses dried. I prefer both, yet I seem to make the dried bean version more in the last few years then the fresh. (I could make the fresh in Cali as I had a source for them. Now that I am a Oregonian, I must rely on my sister to mail me beans from Corti Bros for the Holidays :>) Ah…I miss Corti Bros!

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. Karina

    A beautiful simple salad like this evokes everything I love about summer. And your photos capture that soft, hazy green feeling. Wishing now, that I had a hammock.

  19. 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

  20. Chelsie

    With my CSA each year we get loads of Fava Beans, my favorite recipe when we have a real bounty is to make Fresh Falafel. You can do the second peeling of the beans, but usually we just leave it on. It’s superb with home made taziki sauce, and keeps well as leftovers for a few days.

    The general recipe (we sort of eye everything)

    2 cups of shucked Fava to 1 tabelespoon of flour.
    bunch of cilantro
    chopped onion
    chopped red pepper or cayanne
    add mint or any other flavors you want!

    chop everything but the flour in the food proccessor to the texture you prefer, then stir in flour- add more if needed to get the mixture to hold shape.

    Fry in oil (medium heat) in golf ball sized rounds or make into patties. They’re ready when they’re golden brown. So yummy!

  21. PIXIE49

    Hello Elise,
    Un petit clin d’oeil de Paris. (A little wink from Paris) Thanks so much for tonight’s dinner…enjoying your salad with a nice glass of white wine.

  22. Jim Price

    Gosh, this recipe was so good! I have never been able to find fava beans in my little area of SW Colorado, so I ordered 1/2 case from Amazon.com. I am so glad I have more for future salads.

  23. Will

    Ok, here is my favorite fava(broad) bean recipe. Incredibly simple. the cheese and beans go so well together.

    2 kg. fava beans
    Olive oil
    Pecorino cheese
    Juice of one lemon

    Boil the beans in a big pot of salted water for 5-7 min. Cool under cold water. Remove beans from pods and then remove tough outer shell from each individual bean. Salt and pepper beans. Shave some pecorino cheese with a potato peeler on top of beans. Sprinkle some extra virgin olive oil and squeeze a lemon.

    Love the simplicity of this approach. Thanks for sharing! ~Elise

  24. Kitty

    Dear bean lover and Elise,
    It is not an allergy or like an allergy. It’s a hereditary condition, which only males are afflicted. Where eating Fava Beans causes “hemolytic anemia” and yes it can be deadly. Google it.

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