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It’s Okay: Don’t Peel Your Fava Beans!

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Our Creative Director Kristen was shocked to find out that I don’t peel my fava beans, so maybe I will rock your world, too.

This is not because I am lazy or busy or more preoccupied with shelling peas—it’s because I actually prefer them with their wetsuits (as Kristen calls them).

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Ali Slagle
Ali Slagle
Warm leftover lentils perked up with green sauce and fava beans (no, I don't peel them). Add a genius fried egg on top made with chili flakes instead of paprika (link below).

And I’m not the only one. The permission to go the easy route and only remove the pod and not the white-ish skin came from a few places: One, my mother does not peel favas, so because my mom said so. She likely learned not to from her Tuscan-born mother, as most of Italy, Spain, and Britain don’t peel their favas.

Two, Ignacio Mattos’s Genius Grilled Favas teaches us to eat the whole dang bean—with a fork and knife, or animal-style with our hands. He does advise to seek out the most tender fava beans at the market so their skins aren’t quite as tough, but I’ve never bothered.

Ignacio Mattos’ Grilled Favas

Ignacio Mattos’ Grilled Favas by Genius Recipes

Ottolenghi, Jerusalem, Plenty More

Ottolenghi, Jerusalem, Plenty More

From $35

The most convincing evidence for skin-on favas, however, came from the beef meatballs with fava beans and lemon recipe in Jerusalem, in which half the fava beans keep their skins on while the others are denuded. As you eat your way through the (very good) sauté (that you should really make), you’re able to do a side-by-side comparison of the favas both ways: At first bite, the ones with the skins on are like Marcona almonds: silky, oily, earthy, but firm. They then give way to melty-creaminess on the inside, like the middle of a ball of Burrata.

In your next bite, the naked beans will seem too soft, without any resistance to remind you that they’re even there. Why did you just spend so much time skinning these suckers if they won’t even show off?

This is as skinned as I like my favas.
This is as skinned as I like my favas.

So don’t let fava bean season pass you by yet again. This year, gobble them, and a little more fiber and flavor, with a whole lot less cursing. Tackle any recipe that calls for fava beans, with one less step—there are some recipes to get you started below.

(For those of you worried about the amount of roughage the skins provide, know that my stomach has never hurt after eating them—but maybe it’s because I was too happy to be eating spoonfuls of favas.)

Fresh Raw Pea, Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad with Herbs & Pecorino

Fresh Raw Pea, Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad with Herbs & P... by Sara Jenkins

Rice with Favas and Dill (Baghali Polo)

Rice with Favas and Dill (Baghali Polo) by Louisa Shafia

Fava and Fresh Ricotta Crostini

Fava and Fresh Ricotta Crostini by vvvanessa

Spring Soba Noodle Salad with Fava Beans

Spring Soba Noodle Salad with Fava Beans by Gena Hamshaw

Artichoke Stew with Bonus Appetizer

Artichoke Stew with Bonus Appetizer by savorthis

Vignarola (Roman Spring Vegetable Braise)

Vignarola (Roman Spring Vegetable Braise) by Emiko

Tags: Kitchen Hacks, Vegetable, Summer, Tips & Techniques, Farmers Markets