The flavor of fresh fava beans and olives shines through this vegan and healthy Mediterranean salad which can also be made into a fava spread!
This Mediterranean salad with fresh fava beans, olives, and croutons is a simple and tasty way to enjoy fava beans which happen to be in season for a few months usually starting from April. Like most legumes, fava beans are rich in plant-based protein and dietary fiber and are very low in fat, something that makes them an excellent food, not only for those who watch their weight or just like to eat healthy, but for everyone! Except for the salad recipe, at the end of this post (at the notes section of the recipe card) you will also find a recipe for a simple fava spread. You can have this spread for breakfast, snack, or even make hor d’oeuvres and serve them to your guests before dinner 🙂
The only reason for this post was because I wanted to let the world know (OK, maybe this is an exaggeration and maybe the world already knows) that you can (and should!) eat fresh fava beans either completely raw or briefly boiled. This is a great snack or salad for Lent, but since this year Easter was a little early fava beans were not in season yet. For me, the best way to eat them is with an extra large slice of bread and lots of olives. I sit on the table, open a big fava pod and take out those beautiful colored beans. I bite the top part of the membrane with my teeth, and squeeze with my fingers for the bean to slide out. I then eat it with a piece of bread and an olive. The perfect appetizer or snack!
When it comes to peeling-off the membranes of the beans for the salad, after they’re blanched, I stick to the usual tried-and-true method: I cut off a bit of the top with a paring knife, and then pop the bean out just by squeezing it with my fingers. Note that the membrane of the fava beans is totally edible, so you don’t have to peel it off, especially if the beans are very young and tender. If you’ve never had them before, try it both ways (with the membrane and without) and decide for yourself.
Another recipe we have in Crete for fava beans is to cook them whole with their pods, on the stove, with potatoes, fennel fronds and tomato juice (and sometimes with artichokes). The recipe is similar to this Mediterranean green been stew with potatoes. Unfortunately, I don’t like them prepared like this, so I’ve never cooked them thus, I can’t give you any recipe. But if anyone is very interested, leave me a comment or send me a message and I can contact my mom who cooks them like that very often. 🙂
When I decided to post this recipe, I remembered my authentic Greek salad 2 ways and thought that it would also be a nice idea to also present this salad in 2 different ways. The second way is to make it a spread, and the secret ingredient which makes this fava spread tasty is the olive paste (tapenade). If you can’t find ready-made olive paste you can add a few pitted olives in your food processor when you process the fava beans. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that olives or olive paste can be very salty, so don’t add any extra salt before you taste the end result.
Please read this: There are some people especially in the Mediterranean region that have an enzyme deficiency. These people, and especially kids, are forbidden to eat Fava beans and take certain medication (among other things). You can read more about G6PD deficiency here.
- You can eat the fava beans raw or briefly boiled. Keep in mind that their texture can range from starchy to creamy depending on how young they are, and that when briefly boiled it’s easier to remove their membrane.
- Substitute boiled potatoes for the bread for a gluten-free option.
- Chopped green onions are a nice addition to this salad.
- Avoid fava beans if you have a G6PD deficiency.
You may also like these similar recipes:
- About two pounds whole fresh fava beans in their pods (you’ll be left with approximately 1 pound beans)
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons e.v. olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For the croutons:
- 1 cup bread cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
Brush the bread cubes with the olive oil and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Let them cool for 10 minutes. In the meantime, snap the fava pods and collect the fava beans in a bowl.
Set a medium pot filled with water over high heat and let it come to a boil. Add the fava beans and boil for 1 minute. Drain through a colander and rinse with cold water until fava beans are no longer warm. (You can skip this step if you want them completely raw, but they’ll be a little harder to shell)
- Cut the top of the membrane of each bean with a paring knife and squeeze it with your fingers. The bean should slide out very easily. Do this with all of the beans.
- Mix the shelled fava beans, the croutons and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
Both croutons and fresh bread work well in this recipe.
Optionally, you can add 1 finely chopped green onion.
Avoid fava beans in any form if you have a G6PD deficiency.
For the Fava bean spread: Process in your food processor: 1 cup boiled and shelled fava beans, 4 tablespoons e.v. olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup parsley, 5-6 spearmint or mint leaves, 1 teaspoon sugar, a pinch of pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tsp fresh), and 1-2 tablespoons water. Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive paste into the spread, or keep it separately and spread it on top of the fava spread before serving, if you want it to be two-colored.
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