A Catalan Way with Fava Beans

Faves i pesols As spring arrives and fava bean season comes with it one will see mounds of long thick green fava bean pods piled high at the farmers markets.  Generally, they will be mature pods of about  6 to 7 inches long, but if you were to have your own plant one could harvest them younger.  They are bulky for sure.  If you were to buy enough fava beans for a dish such as the Catalan-style fava and beans below you’ll need 5 pounds of bean pods to give up enough double-peeled fava beans for a dish serving eight people.  Double-peeled means the bean is removed from its pod (first peel) and then briefly boiled to loosen and pinch off the tough skin surrounding the beans (double peel).

One sometimes hears advice that it’s unnecessary to remove that skin.  However, the skin is tough and not easily digested, but one may be disinclined to peel it since that adds significantly to the labor intensiveness of the prepared dish.  One hears that advice because in the Mediterranean fava beans are usually harvested and eaten when they are much younger and the skin not so tough–or the fava, if mature, are cooked in stews for a long time which makes them softer.  There is no doubt that peeled fava are more pleasant to eat and more beautifully green.  That being said, I recommend for the faves i pèsols recipe that you do double-peel the fava.

Faves i Pèsols - Fava and White Beans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This version of the famous Catalan faves i pèsols (fava beans and white beans) is served as an amanida (salad) rather than as an ofegade (stew). The fuller version, ofegat de faves i pèsols must include both butifarra negre (blood sausage) and butifarra blanca (white sausage). Five pounds of fava bean pods results in 2¼ pounds of beans that then need to have their peel removed, leaving you with 1 ½ pounds of double-peeled fava beans.
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: Catalan
Serves: 8
  • 5 pounds fava bean pods, shelled
  • 1 cup (1/2 pound) dried white beans, soaked in water overnight
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat, using a pot with a strainer insert (preferably), then cook the fava beans for 7 minutes. Remove the fava beans by pulling up the insert or by using a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Keep the water at a boil, and add the dried white beans and a little salt and cook until tender, 1 to 1¼ hours. Once the fava beans are cool enough to handle, pinch off the skin and set the beans aside. Drain the white beans once cooked.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat, then cook the pine nuts until they start turning golden, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the fava beans and white beans and the remaining olive oil and cook, stirring, until hot, about 5 minutes. Add the mint, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the pine nuts and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.


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