Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fava Tips

My first taste of fava leaves, or tips as they are also called, was about five years ago, when a woman I worked with at the time shared some from her garden. Through the generosity of one or two other kind gardeners, I have munched on them once or twice since then, but haven't had the opportunity to eat any from my own garden until now. I'm growing favas for the first time this year, and although my primary goal is a bean harvest, I wanted to sample some leaves in the meantime. If you've never had fava tips before, they are similar to pea shoots: tender with a fresh leguminous taste.
The plants are just beginning to set their flowers, so in the interest of not disturbing them too much, I only harvested a few leaves. They made perfectly bite-sized rolls for snacking, filled with nut cheese and various other little treats such as cherry tomatoes, kalamatas, and shallot scapes. The rolls with olive and scapes were especially tasty.

If you have access to fava leaves, don't let this seasonal treat pass you by. The leaves are perfect for salads;  eat them raw to best capture the fresh flavor. I've also seen recipes for them in pesto, wilted salads, or stir much the same way you might use spinach greens or pea shoots.

The nut cheese filling is adapted from a recipe for lemon-pignoli "ricotta", which I use all the time. It is perfect for lasagne or any time you want a ricotta-like filling.

Walnut-pignoli filling (~ 1/2 cup):

1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Soak the walnuts and pine nuts in water for an hour (or more if you want), strain off the water and blend with the rest of ingredients. You may want to add a little water to adjust the consistency.

All in all, favas seem to be a pretty easy-going plant. In my garden, they are in part shade, and even so,  have been growing at a rate of at least 2-3 inches a week. The soil is not particularly rich either; the bed they're in is native soil, which tends to be clay, acidic, and not terribly nutritious. Amending with compost and growing the odd cover crop, I've been able to improve the soil quality of this bed somewhat: it started out as predominantly clay, but now is more of a clay-loam.

All going well, I'm expecting a bean harvest in mid- to late-June. After, (hopefully) harvesting the beans, I'll cut down the stalks and turn them into the soil as green manure.

FAVA UPDATE: Some of the first flowers opened this afternoon. They look like bumble bees:

 fava blossoms

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin


  1. Rose,

    Thank you so much for sharing your favas. The flowers are adorable. They do look like bees.

    talk to you later,

  2. So cool! I love your garden updates, and especially the fava updates. Flowers so early bodes well, in my book, and the plants look monstrously healthy. As do your fava tip treats!

  3. Alicia,

    I was very charmed by the flowers...more interesting than the standard solid-colored pea blossom.

    Zoa, I agree that it bodes well, and thanks for your good thoughts...I've read that favas will drop their blossoms if the weather is too warm, so just as well that they flower now.

    Have a great evening, both of you!

  4. This was a very informative post for me, as I'm pretty certain I've never eaten fava beans (not an intentional omission on my part, though I can't hear "fava beans" without thinking "Hannibal Lector!"), and I know for sure I've never eaten fava tips! Nor have I ever seen the plant's blossoms before. They're so pretty! Your stuffed leaves sound mighty tasty. We're quite the little leaf-munchers lately, aren't we? :-) I wish you an abundant harvest!

  5. The little flowers are precious! Worth growing the favas just for them.

  6. Lalo,

    I'm glad I never saw that movie, so don't have the same association. Thanks for the well wishes. We're definitely getting into leaf-munching mode these days!


    They are charming aren't they? It was a fun surprise.

  7. I would never have known that fava leaves are edible, thanks for the info. The flowers are very cool looking. And there you go tempting me again with those yellow tomatoes ;-)

  8. Janet,

    I agree, there's just something about yellow tomatoes that makes them look so juicy, sweet, and tasty. :)

  9. Wow, I never would have thought to eat fava leaves. Very good! I just had some fresh fava beans delivered to us from our farm, and not knowing what to do with them, I blanched them, sauteed them in margarine and garlic and tossed them with pasta. Sounded like a great idea, but the beans have a stronger taste than I was expecting, so I don't think it worked that great. I'll be looking forward to seeing your bean recipes, as well, to give me some ideas.

  10. Blessed Mama,

    Your fava bean dish sounds good to me! If the taste was too strong for pasta, you might try making some fresh falafel balls next time...use the blanched/deskinned favas in place of chickpeas...the falafel comes out really delish and it's green inside! Fun!


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