Fava Bean Spring Salad

Fresh Fava bean salad

Last spring I wrote a post about eating and growing fava beans and included three recipes: a soup, a fava puree, and fava crostini, that was published on our sister site Ecolocalizer. Those are all delicious, but in that post I mentioned that my favorite way to eat fava beans is in a simple salad. Here is that recipe.

The tender spring fava beans are wonderfully buttery –ย  we grow them every year in our suburban garden and watch the pods swell with great anticipation. In our family, the favorite way to eat them is to make a simple but delicious warm salad by adding fresh chopped tarragon from the garden, diced red onion and cooked new potatoes. A lemony dressing (of course!) is the perfect finish.

Fava Bean Spring Salad

You Will Need

1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (about 1 lb fava bean pods)

1 cup cubed new potatoes

ยผ cup diced red onion

1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or parsley or basil)


Shelled fava beans

Prepare the Fava Beans

Shell the fava beans out of the pods while you heat water and boil the potatoes until they are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shelled fava beans to the boiling potatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes until the fava beans are tender. The fava beans may be different sizes, so test a big one. Make sure the potatoes are also thoroughly cooked. Drain the potatoes and favas, and let them cool.

Mix and Serve

You can serve the salad warm or chilled. To serve, mix in the diced onion and chopped tarragon, and toss with the dressing. Mound onto tender lettuce leaves or other salad greens, if desired. This salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Serves 2-4.

Lemon Mustard Dressing

Whisk together:

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard, such as Maille

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil ; add more oil to taste as needed

Growing Fava Beans

Fava plants like cool weather and they do well grown over the winter in our temperate coastal California climate, and they tolerate frost. I plant them in October for edible beans beginning in April. In California they are also planted in early spring for a crop in the summer along the cooler coast in the north-central area.

They are very popular used as a soil-building cover crop where they are turned under into the soil after flowering, before the beans set. But we love to eat them, so we use the harvested plants as a green manure to add to our compost pile.

Harvest fava plants for green manure

We also let a few pods dry on the stalks to use for next season’s seed. It’s a win – win. See my previous fava bean post for more.

Photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke

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5 thoughts on “Fava Bean Spring Salad”

  1. You shouldn’t have “gastrointestinal problems”, namely gas, with fresh beans out of the green pods. Dry beans that are cooked then eaten have a reputation for causing gas, but I agree with Steve Sando, of Rancho Gordo who believes that if you aren’t used to eating lots of fiber (which beans do have) you may get gas. Since I eat a mostly vegetable based diet (lots of fiber!), I have found that he seems to be right!

  2. A lot of people remove the bean from the pod and also from the bean “covering”.
    People with a Mediterranean background have a propensity to be extremely sensitive to the fava bean and do experience severe “gas”. If so, simply remove the outer casing of the individual bean.

    1. Thanks for your comments Susan. Yes I always shell the favas as shown in the photo in my post. Some people eat the young pods, but in my opinion there are lots of tastier beans for eating the pods.

      It’s true that some people have a type of allergic reaction to favas. The most dangerous is due to G6-PD deficiency, which is hereditary and they usually know about it at an early age.
      I don’t know if simply removing the skin of the bean works for them, as it is a severe reaction.
      Other people have a mild reaction to eating uncooked favas. If you have any doubts, don’t eat raw favas, and eat a very small amount of the cooked ones when it’s your first time eating them.

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