Ingredient of the Month: Fava Beans

It’s been a while since I did produce of the month post–back then it was cold and dreary and a little citrus was a nice way to brighten up a dish. Now, it’s May, the sun is shining, and the world is beginning to come alive again. The avalanche of farm fresh summer produce is upon us, starting with the fava bean. Now, a little disclaimer to start with–some people are allergic to favas and eating them can cause anemia in some people. However, most can eat favas without worry or care, and this is great since they provide such a nutritional punch.

Fava beans provide a significant about of folate, fiber, and most of the essential amino acids. They also provide a hefty dose of manganese, copper, and water. What, water? you say. Yes–as the days grow warmer, you begin to crave foods that hydrate you (hence watermelon and salads sounding so good in summer. Or popsicles, for that matter). Besides that, between the water and the fiber, favas are filling.

Right now, favas are fresh so there is no need to soak them, making them an easy bean for the beginner cook to tackle. To round out the nutrient profile for favas, you can add some olive oil, tomato, and onion–these provide additional vitamins and minerals (you can check out the nutrient profiles at SELF magazine’s nutrition tool).

Now, for the cool part: imagine a beautiful Mediterranean coastline (favas originated somewhere around there). Now, I am going to focus on one particular coastline–Portugal’s. Now, envision a little Portuguese family settling into dinner–and what are those? Oh, yes! Favas! And how were they prepared? What is this age-old recipe (at least, as old as tomatoes have been in the Old World)? Some onion, some tomatoes, some favas, all cooked up with some olive oil. Cool, right?

Do you have any recipes for favas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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