Mention fava beans and it soon becomes clear that people either love them or hate them, the statistics being about 50-50 in my experience. But fava beans (also known as broad beans) are a valuable addition to any organic garden and diet, so it is worth experimenting to find appealing ways of preparing them.
Fava beans are among the oldest plants in cultivation, and are believed to have become part of the eastern Mediterranean diet around 6000 BC or earlier along with lentils, peas, and chickpeas. Fava beans are easy to grow and very hardy. Their ability to withstand harsh and cold climates makes them an important winter crop. Unlike most legumes, fava beans can also be grown in highly saline and clay soils (but do prefer rich loams). As a legume, fava beans fix nitrogen and can be an important natural fertiliser in intercropping and serial cropping regimes.
In the diet, fava beans are a rich source of protein (25% by weight), B group vitamins and most minerals. Traditionally in Australia, fava beans were simply boiled and spooned onto a plate, a preparation method that may have something to do with many people’s continuing aversion to them to this day. But there are many much more palatable ways to eat fava beans, a popular favourite being as a component of falafel mix, often in conjunction with chick peas.
Another very simple but tasty way to prepare fava beans is fava bean pesto!
To prepare fava bean pesto, simply boil fresh fava beans for no more than 5-10 minutes, then use a blender to make them into a paste (add a little olive oil while blending). Then season the paste with any of the following ingredients to taste: garlic, onions/shallots, dried black olives, chilli, salt, black pepper.
Fava bean pesto can be eaten as a dip like guacamole or mixed into pasta like traditional pesto. Delicious either way!