A Spring Soba Noodle Salad -- Plus a Lesson in Favas

May  2, 2013

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: Gena makes a cold soba noodle salad that's just what you'll want in your lunchbox this spring -- and shares her tips for wrangling spring's most high-maintenance vegetable.


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As clichéd as it may be to label anything as “East meets West,” this dish just may fit the bill. In it, buckwheat soba noodles -- a staple of Japanese cuisine -- meet asparagus and fava beans, both crops that originated around the Mediterranean.

Fava beans may intimidate you at first, but don’t let their large, spotted pods scare you off. Once you get the hang of it, they are easy to work with, and boast loads of protein, color, and texture. 

More: Get the down & dirty on favas.


To prepare fava beans, you split the pods open and remove the fat beans inside. This can be tough: the pods don’t always open easily, so you may need a paring knife to help the process along. Once you’ve shelled your fava beans, you’ll need to parboil them for at least 4 to 5 minutes in salted water. Plunge them in cold water and remove their waxy skins. At this point, you can steam, sautée, or cook them as you wish. 

Fresh fava beans have a very short season. If you can’t find them, you can substitute a cup of shelled edamame in their place. They won’t have the hardiness of favas, but they’ll have the same brilliant green color and add a protein punch to this dish. I like to prepare the salad and allow it to marinate for a few hours at least; the more you allow the ingredients to mingle with the vinaigrette dressing, the better.


Cold Sesame Soba Noodle and Fava Bean Salad

Serves 4

1 cup shelled fava beans, blanched in boiling water, and waxy coating removed
1 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
10 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
1 cup shredded carrot
2 scallions, sliced
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
2 tablespoons avocado or walnut oil (substitute olive oil if you have neither)
1 clove finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • phara
  • Andrea Devon
    Andrea Devon
  • Kelly S.
    Kelly S.
  • Nancy Harmon Jenkins
    Nancy Harmon Jenkins
  • erskinechef
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.


phara September 6, 2013
WOW! I never used favas before either, but something about this recipe made me cross the invisible life-long mental obstacle to them . . . and life on the other side is, as you know, yummier. I was awash in farmer's market veggies the day I made this, so substituted roasted okra for the asparagus which I'd do again. We topped it with sriracha and 2 of us (well, plus the baby) finished the whole recipe in 24 hours. Thank you!!!
Andrea D. July 10, 2013
I've never worked with fresh favas before, they're not super common here in our islands. It's on the some-day-I-will-cook list!
Kelly S. May 26, 2013
This was my introduction to fava beans, and this dish is absolutely delicious! I've always loved cold soba dishes, but your dressing tops anything I've had before!
Nancy H. May 5, 2013
I'm against peeling individual fava beans--if they're big enough to need peeling, they're too big to eat. Puree them instead. But buy small, tender, young fave for this delicious-sounding recipe.
Gena H. May 5, 2013
A very helpful tip, Nancy!
innoabrd May 6, 2013
I'm with Nancy on this. Small, fresh beans don't need the added hassle of peeling. Also, I find favas much easier to find at the 'ethnic' stores. H-Mart is usually a good bet here in Denver. Middle Eastern grocers also a good bet.
erskinechef May 5, 2013
Thanks Gena! I made this today for lunch and it was a hit with my husband and my 3 little kids. I didn't have fava beans so used edamame and it was great.
Gena H. May 5, 2013
Hooray! I'm delighted to hear it :)