Fava beans always look so enticing at the market. The big pods with fresh beans tucked inside lead to dreaming about future recipes. And yet, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. Fava beans have a two-shelling process which is a bit labor intensive. But, I’ve found time and again, it’s worth it.
If I could, I would eat this fava bean salad for lunch every day. The delicate, just-cooked bean flavor is a perfect companion for the rich butter, light dill, and hearty rye breadcrumbs. This is everything I could ever want in a salad. One quick note, you can eat fava beans without going through the second shelling process. Young, tender beans don’t have a tough exterior. However, I’ve found more often than not, the beans I pick up are not young. For the full experience of this salad, go through the entire shelling process.
Buttered Fava Bean Salad
A fresh, spring salad using fresh fava beans lightly cooked in butter, lemon zest, and dill then tossed with spinach and rye bread.
- 1 pound unshelled fava beans
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 ounces crusty rye bread
- Zest from 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced dill
- 2 rough cups baby spinach
- 2 soft-boiled eggs
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Prepare fava beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil with a hefty pinch of salt and prepare an ice bath. Shell the favas and place in the boiling water. Boil for 60 seconds and immediately transfer to an ice bath. Once cool, shell the favas by piercing with your thumb and removing the inner-most bean.
- Shred the rye bread by grated, pulsing in a food processor, or pulling apart with your fingers. I like to have small crumb-like pieces and a few slightly larger pieces to vary texture. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium-low heat and add the bread. Toast until the bread is golden and the crumbs have crisped. Transfer to a boil.
- Wipe out the pan and return to a low-heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoon of butter along with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Add the shelled favas and cook for roughly a minute, just to warm the beans. Remove from heat and stir in the dill.
- Place spinach in a large bowl. Add the favas along with most of the toasted bread. Toss together then top with sliced soft-boiled eggs, the remaining toasted bread, and a sprinkle of dill.
Tips & Tricks: I follow this method for making soft boiled eggs.
Fava beans can be eaten out of the shell but I find most beans to be a bit older and have a tougher exterior. I recommend shelling a second time as the end result is a beautiful, creamy bean.
Nutrition: see the information.
Step by Step
Fava Bean Salad
Peas: If you’re not in the mood to spend time shelling favas, use peas in their place. I’ve successfully done this salad with frozen peas. It’s not the same but it’s still delicious.
Vegan: Swap all the butter for a high-quality olive oil.
Herbs: I love dill in this fava bean salad but parsley and/or chives would make for a lovely addition.
Bread: Rye has long been a favorite of mine and I like the slightly more pronounced flavor in this salad. However, a crusty wheat or peasant bread would work as well.
Fava beans are such a lovely spring treat, despite their rough and tough looking exterior. Once shelled, these beautiful green beans are perfect for topping salads, toast, or making into a dip. Also, if you see fava greens at the market- those are great in a simple sauté with a bit of olive oil and garlic.