Fava Beans



Fava beans are one of the oldest cultivated plants. They had been grown in the Mediterranean regions, in China and in others Asian countries for over 5000 years.
They are grown in California and are available fresh from June to the end of August, and dry all year around.
The fava beans come in a pod and they have to be shelled like their cousins, the peas. To eliminate the inner skin, blanch the fava beans for 4 to 5 minutes and discard the translucent skin that covers them.

Use the fava as a side dish simply dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper, if you prefer add a dash of vinegar; mash to cover pane fritto, fried bread orcrostini; make the Frittedda  with peas and artichokes for a special pasta dish.
In Sicily and all over Italy fave are eaten raw with bread and pecorino cheese.




Be aware that some people are allergic to raw fava beans. Cooking may prevent any allergic reaction.
Fava beans are rich in L-dopa, an element used in the treatment of the Parkinson’s disease and in the management of hypertension.
Fava beans are abundant in Sicily and in particular in the province of Syracuse, where the water is plentiful, the terrain is rich and very favorable to the growing of this vegetable.
They are dried and used in the Mediterranean, Middle Easter and Asian cuisine. In Syracuse the dry beans are boiled with garlic and then dressed with oil, salt and pepper. Eat them using your hand, pick up a fava bean with casualness, make a small incision to the skin using with your teeth and extract the fava by sucking it. It is easy to learn and they are delicious!


Boiled Fava Beans Syracuse Style

(“ Fave Bollite alla Siracusana”)
(“Fave Vugghiuti a’ Siracusana”)




  • 1 lb. dry fava beans
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Rinse the dry fava beans and place in a 6 quart sauce pot with about 4 quarts of water. Soak overnight.


Using a knife, eliminate the little, dark membrane on top of each bean.
Rinse beans and place them with the garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt in a 6 quart sauce pot with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and lower flame, simmer for 2 hours. 
Taste for doneness, when ready drain the extra liquid and transfer into a serving dish.


The Serving 
Dress fava beans with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and serve hot or cold.



Fava Beans Rabbit Style-  

Fave a Cunignu


In Palermo the fave are cooked the same way.  

When ready drain the extra liquid and return to the pot. Over a medium heat add the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 2 teaspoons of oregano and ¼ cup of vinegar.
Reduce for 2 minutes and transfer into a serving dish. Serve hot or cold. 


Fresh Fava Beans  

In a 6 quart saucepan, over a high heat sauté a sliced medium onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 2 pounds of fresh fava beans, 1 cup of water and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.