Fresh Fava Beans with Feta and Mint

fava_finish fava2

Fava beans, broad beans, Vicia faba, whatever you prefer to call them… they’ve begun to show up at my local Italian greengrocer. There was a time when I was committed to growing both peas and fava beans during the spring season, but once I moved into an Italian neighbourhood I decided there was little point in pushing to make both happen in a small space and so these days I grow loads of peas and buy favas.

But don’t listen to me. There is plenty of reason to grow your own favas, namely the deliciously, tender stems and leaves that you can’t buy anywhere. I grow peas for the same reason and for now they have won my favour until such a time that I have the space to accommodate both.

But I digress. The first favas have made their appearance and I immediately snapped up a pound in order to test their quality. We ate them for dinner the other night in a simple spelt pasta dish tossed together with shallots, good quality bacon (from our favourite butcher Sanagan’s) olive oil, and Parmesan cheese.

Having deemed them to be good, I went back for more so I could make a dish that has become a bit of a seasonal tradition in our house: fava beans with feta and mint. This is a super easy dish to make. So easy in fact, that I had never bothered to commit it to paper until now. Instead, I wing it, adding and tasting the mix until it looks and tastes right. Sometimes I add Balsamic vinegar for acidity, and sometimes I use lemon juice. If you use lemon juice, I suggest adding about a tablespoon or so. I don’t put garlic in ours, but you might prefer the added bite.

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The only “difficult” part of this recipe is in preparing the beans. Like most large legumes, favas need to be “shucked” or shorn of their outer pod. Larger, mature beans have a skin or membrane that can be tough and difficult to chew. I have prepared favas without making the extra effort to remove this tough skin, but be advised that it isn’t particularly palatable. The good news is that removing this skin is fairly simple work as long as the beans are blanched or cooked first.

RECIPE: Fresh Fava Beans with Feta and Mint


  • 3 lbs fava beans in their pods
  • 1/2 cup or so feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste

Shuck the beans, separating them from their pods.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the shucked beans until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Peel the tough outer skin from any beans that are bigger than your thumb. Small beans have a thin outer skin that should be tender enough to eat.


I used ‘Curly’ mint because that is the variety that is most abundant in my garden right now.

In a bowl, combine the peeled beans and the remaining ingredients. Store in the fridge until you are ready to eat.


  • Mash the fava beans and serve on toast or crackers.
  • Serve the bean mixture with warm or cold pasta.
  • Add chopped bacon or diced pancetta to the mix. Fava beans go well with salty ingredients.
  • Substitute the feta cheese with dollops of ricotta or freshly grated Parmesan.
Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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11 thoughts on “Fresh Fava Beans with Feta and Mint

  1. Out of thrifty curiosity, what do you do with the pods? Do they go in the compost pile or is there some way to use them for food?

    • I compost them. The mature pods have a velvet interior that I don’t like. Another reason why I prefer to save the space for peas — you can eat the whole thing and the plant, too.

  2. My husband and I absolutely love Fava Beans. Although we haven’t eaten them for a while because they can cause major allergic reactions (favism) in young kids of certain ethnic backgrounds… and we have 3 kids. So I’m adding fava beans to the things I will plant when the kids are grown lol

    • I had never heard of this — a surprise given the number of things I am allergic to. Thanks for mentioning it.

  3. Why can I never think of Fava beans without thinking “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” Damn you Hannibal Lecter

  4. Nice photos of the beans, and thanks for the recipe.
    I’m growing two, no three!, kinds of beans this year – Kentucky Wonder pole beans, Ford Hook bunch beans, and some bean seeds a friend gave me. My friend is very careless with names, so I’m not sure what they are. She assured me they were bunch beans not runners – We will see what comes up! I don’t know why I planted so many beans – I guess this will be the Year of the Beans! I do have 5 tomato plants, a dozen or so okra seeds planted, and 10 pepper plants. Of course, there are still a lot of plants out there – something else may come home with me at any minute!
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea’s Menagerie

    • oh my goodness we’ve ended up with year of the beans too! I’ve never grown even close to as many as we are this year, 2 favas, scarlet runner beans, 3 types of pole bean, 2 types of bush and 1 soy!

  5. I’ve never had fresh favas but I LOVE crunchy, roasted ones. They’re like potato chips for me! I’m going to have to try this recipe when I finally start growing favas

  6. were growing favas for the first time this year, we have two varieties that we are trying out. I’ve never even eaten any! I just heard they were a great cold weather crop that’s high in protein. I look forward to trying this recipe out!

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