Habas (Peeled Fava Beans)[ PURCHASE INFO ]
Habas: Habas are peeled fava beans or broad beans, they are flat round beans that come in a variety of colors. Habas have a wonderfully rich meaty and nutty flavor. Popular in Italian cooking, habas can be eaten raw, cooked and pureed, roasted for a snack, or added to salads, soups, risotto, pasta.... Their versatility is making them more popular in the west, but they have long been a favorite in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Habas are best consumed when young and tender. Their large floppy pods are easily recognized, the pods are inedible so the beans should always be removed from the pod. Then they are shelled to remove the thick skin, although some do enjoy the Fava bean whole. Parboling makes removing the shell easier. Habas can be expensive, the extra work of shelling each bean adds to the cost.
The habas plant, called broad beans in England, is believed to be the bean stalk that Jack used to climb into the clouds. Habas were the only beans known to Europeans until they discovered the new world. One of the first cultivated plants, habas history dates back to 6,000 BC or earlier. Their long history has lead to a cornucopia of names for the bean: fava, broad, faba, horse, windsor, cold, silkworm, pigeon... It's most common name in the U.S. is Fava, which is Italian for "bean". Habas is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean basin, and some people of African, Mediterranean or Southeast Asian descent have developed an allergic reaction to the beans called favism. But for most of us they are simply nutritious. Very high in protein, habas are also a good source of fiber and iron. L-dopa, used to combat Parkinson's disease and control hypertension is also in abundance in the beans. With it's long history, habas has become the subject of many folk legends. In Italy small cakes made, not with habas, but in the shape of the bean are called "beans of the dead". According to the legend Sicily lost all of it's crops at one point except habas which kept the Sicilians alive. They are also considered to be good luck, magic, food for the dead, and of course there's that bean stalk that will carry you to the clouds...
Where to buy: Habas