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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bissara (Moroccan Fava Bean Dip) and Fava and Garbanzo Bean Salad

I bought several pounds of fava beans at the farmers' market in Alhambra recently. They're only going to be in season for maybe another month. So if you haven't tried them before, hurry! Fava beans taste like a cross between lima beans and edamame. They're a bit of work since they have to be shelled twice - the hard outer layer and the inner covering over the bean has to be removed. One pound of beans will result in about 1 cup after shelling. After you remove the tough outer pods you'll see these beans.

You have to shell those too. I usually boil mine in salted water for about 10 minutes. I've seen recipes that only call for 3 minutes but that still seems to leave the beans too hard for me. So if you want the beans hard like edamame then boil for 3 minutes, if you want them soft like lima beans then boil for 10 minutes.
  These were actually a bit overcooked because I forgot and left them in for 15 minutes. You can see the inner shell has cracked revealing the bright green fava bean inside.

Now, at this point, I usually just snack on them plain. I think I ate about a quarter of these just like this.

But I also decided to make  
Bissara (Moroccan Fava Bean Dip).
  You'll need:
1 1/2 cups fava beans, shelled and lightly boiled (1 1/2 lbs of beans before shelling)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 medium lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves
About 3 tblsp of olive oil

Put everything in a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve with toasted Middle Eastern flatbread. It's like eating a very green and spring-tasting hummus.

So in thinking of hummus, I decided to use the rest of my fava beans and combine them with garbanzo beans to make a salad. Here's lil' sis's fingers reaching in for a bite.

I took used almost the same ingredients as the bissara, but added a can of garbanzo beans. Think of it as a non-pureed hummus. It still seemed to be missing that oomph, so remembering this garbanzo bean salad recipe from Orangette, I added olive oil and parmesan cheese and it was perfect.

Fava and Garbanzo Bean Salad

You'll need:
1 can garbanzo beans drained
1 cup fava beans, shelled and boiled
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt

To taste: freshly ground black pepper, cayenne, vinegar, olive oil, Parmesan cheese.

So there you go, at least two pretty healthy ways to enjoy fava beans. Three if you just want to eat them plain, like I do. :)


Similar spreads: Hummus


  1. ok, you've convinced me. i'm going to try some fava beans this weekend. any tips on what I should look for and how to go about choosing the fava beans at the farmer's market?

  2. i dont like the taste of lima beans so im gonna have to pass on ever trying out these beans.


  3. The restraint! You did a post on fava beans without mentioning Hannibal Lecter, liver, or "nice Chianti"! I wouldn't have been able to resist!

    P.S. Had no idea you had to peel twice.

  4. Marvin,
    Yay! And I left you directions on your blog. :)

    Grandma used to love lima beans.

    I've never seen "Silence of the Lambs" so there wasn't any restraint needed. But yes, Marvin, and others have quoted that to me. :P

  5. Looks like a real healthy dip! I am not into bean dips though, so I'll stick with eating edamame (no need to shell twice) :)

  6. Yich,
    But fava beans give a slightly different taste than edamame. I hope you'll try someday.

  7. That dip looks so good that I just might be willing to spend time on favas this spring--I made them multiple times last year, but damn if they don't take FOREVER. And I never buy enough--I'm always disappointed with the piddly pile I end up with after the double peeling. But they're yummy, for sure.

  8. Erin,
    Yeah, I'm always disappointed with how little I end up with also. But it doesn't take that much work. There's a lot of worse veggies to deal with. :)

  9. Thanks for the recipe! I have always loved the fava dip at Habibi Cafe. It is so easy to make with frozen fava beans, and great on sandwiches. Terrific picnic food.

  10. Hi Pumpkin Pie,
    I hope you liked the recipe. I love fava and hummus dip a lot and use it on sandwiches too.

  11. We never have fresh fava beans, but
    I see dried ones from Mexico at a
    market I go to. They are bright
    golden yellow. I suppose I could
    cook them, then make the dip. It
    wouldn't be green, but it would be
    a beautiful yellow. -- Probably
    easier to use canned garbanzos for
    hummus, though. - Melba

  12. Melba,
    I'm not sure dried fava beans would give you the same taste then? I imagine it'd be easier to just go with garbanzo beans and make hummus? :)


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