When it is fava bean (aka fuul ) season, folks start selling them in their food carts on the side of the road, piled high in their bright green husks. If these fava beans have been picked young, they can be cooked with the outside tender husk, which eliminates having to shell them one by one and peel them. These beans will not be found in the US in a grocery store, but may be sold at a farmer’s market as their season is short. In most cases, the fresh fava beans are available already mature and can be found all over ethnic stores, Latino groceries or Arab groceries. They will need to be shelled (like fresh peas) and will also need to be peeled, each bean one by one as the outer skin is tough and hard to digest.
If you like the flavors, but don’t want to bother with the chore at hand, it is perfectly fine to use a bag of frozen lima beans or even fresh green peas!
There are plenty of dishes throughout Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran using fresh fava beans (usually mixed with rice or in a stew with yogurt) and of course, there is the now world-famous falafel using dried fava beans; I also came-up with a panini (bread is toasted, slathered with labneh, topped with fava beans and cilantro pesto.
Get fresh, young pods from a farmer’s market or Middle-Eastern store. Cut them into smallish chunks (about 2″), and stir-fry them with some olive oil and chopped onion. The frying should be over medium heat, and should last until the beans start to soften.
Add the mashed garlic and chopped cilantro and continue cooking. Cover the pan and lower the heat. Add a splash of water if necessary and simmer until the beans soften totally. Uncover the pan and serve with quartered lemons or sprinkle some lemon juice over the beans.
- 1 pound of fava beans (young, tender, no more than 5 inches in length) or if these are not available, some lima beans or peas or peeled fava beans without their husks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- olive oil, as needed
- 6 garlic cloves mashed with salt (1 tablespoon of garlic paste)
- 1 cup of cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced