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Fava beans offer change of pace

Published 9:54am Thursday, February 27, 2014

Last fall I was hired to do my third vegan cooking series for Food.

One of the recipes or tips they needed from me was how to cook fava beans. At the time, I didn’t really have a ton of experience with them, but my sister in law, who is from Egypt uses them in her dishes and we’ve cooked with them together before. I called her right away and asked her some advice on how to cook them and what recipes they are used in.

I was interested to learn that fava beans are actually a member of the pea family and are one of the oldest cultivated foods known to man. They were common in ancient Greece and Rome and are still very widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. Like other legumes, they are loaded with nutrients such as vitamin A, fiber, and even the mood-boosting dopamine!

Fava beans have a rich and buttery texture that works really well in everything from falafel to risotto, soups, and pasta. They also taste great pureed into a dip, which is what I chose to do with them.

I found this garlicy dip was not only perfect for dipping veggies, but works great as a topping on stir fry or spicy soup. The earthy, rich flavor of the favas is a nice change from garobzo or white bean hummus spreads.

Locally, fava beans can be found at Apple Valley Market.

Kat Barry, a St. Joseph, Michigan native, is owner of Kat’s Hot Cakes vegan catering, and co author of “The New Chicago Diner Cookbook: Meat Free Recipes from America’s Veggie Diner.” She also develops recipes for, where you can find over 30 of her vegan instructional cooking videos. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Kat currently resides in Chicago, and in her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, sampling local spirits, listening to live music, and getting outdoors. Follow @katshotcakes on twitter. Kat can be reached via email at:

Fava Bean SpreadYield: About 2 1/2 cups

2 cups cooked fava beans* with the skin removed
¼ cup vegetable stock
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ – ¾ teaspoon sea salt
Juice of ½ -lemon
¼ cup tahini paste
½ cup fresh cilantro

1. Place all ingredients except cilantro in a food processor and blend, stopping occaisonally to scrape sides.
2. When the mixture has a smooth yet chunky texture, add the cilantro and pulse a few times until incorporated. Add more salt and spices to taste.
3. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

*Soak 1 cup dry beans in water for two days, changing the water once. Rinse, then simmer beans in vegetable stock with a few dashes of cumin until tender (about 45 mins) Watch my ehow instructional video on fava beans here:

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