Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a starchy bean with a smooth texture. Fresh fava beans are only available in the early summer, but dried or canned varieties are available year-round. Preparing fresh broad beans for cooking can be time-consuming, but the nutritional value and nutty flavour make the preparation worthwhile. For a simple side dish, combine cooked fava beans with herbs such as garlic and thyme and a mild cheese such as mozzarella. Serve warm or chilled with olive oil and fresh bread.
Choose between fresh, canned or dried fava beans. Canned beans are precooked, which means less preparation time. Dried beans take a little more time, because they need to be soaked. Fresh beans take the most time; they need to be shelled twice before cooking. If you do choose fresh beans, select bright green pods. Pods should be firm to the touch and wrinkle-free.
Remove the outer pod from your fresh fava beans. If you chose dried or canned beans, skip to Step 5. Locate the stem at the end of each fresh pod. Notice the dark seam that runs lengthwise along the bean pod. Snap the stem using your fingers, and pull it away from the pod on the seam side. The stem is attached to a string that runs along the pod's seam, and this string will come off along with the stem.
Open the bean pod at the seam. Once the string is removed the seam will be open, and the pod should open easily if you press on it. Remove the beans and discard the outer pod.
Steam the beans in a vegetable steamer for 1 to 3 minutes, or until they look wrinkled and slightly grey. These beans still have an outer shell that needs to be removed before the beans are edible. After steaming, press on the shrivelled shell to remove the waxy outer layer. The beans inside will be smooth and bright green. Discard the outer shells. Store shelled beans in the refrigerator for three to five days, or cook immediately.
Prepare beans for cooking. Soak dried beans in fresh water for eight to 12 hours, then rinse and drain. Drain and rinse canned beans. Fresh beans are ready for cooking once they have been shelled.
Boil the beans in salted water until tender. Boil dried beans for 5 to 15 minutes. Fresh beans will take slightly less time to boil. Canned beans are precooked, so simply heat them up.
Add fava beans to pastas, soups and casseroles, or serve them on their own. Beans can be served as an entr�e component or independently as a side dish.