fresh fava beans with butter and sesame

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  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds fresh fava beans (in their shells)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (see note below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, crushed with a garlic press
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds


  1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil over high heat.
  2. While you wait on the water, peel the outer shells from the fava beans. Here’s the easiest way to do this: using your thumb and the side of your index finger, pinch one end flat and feel for the hollow part right above one of the beans, then snap it back so half of the tip is severed, and then roll half of the bean back over your index finger, while peeling the other half away with your other hand (see the above GIF and photo). Pop out the pods and discard the shell.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the shelled fava beans and boil for 45 seconds. While they’re boiling, fill a bowl with ice water.
  4. Strain the fava beans in the sink, and then immediately shock them in the ice water for about 3 minutes. To finish prepping the beans, peel the membranes. The easiest way is to carefully use a paring knife and your thumb to peel away a patch of film, and then pop the bean out (see the above GIF). Some of them might come out split in half, which is totally fine. this takes about 5 seconds/bean–a little longer than the shells, but also not too bad. Make sure they’re nice and dry before proceeding.
  5. Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Let it bubble for about a minute after it melts (careful not to let it brown or smoke), and then add the prepped favas and salt. Cook stirring every 30 seconds for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the beans are a little creamy on the inside, and no longer mealy. Lower the heat if the butter begins to brown. In the last minute of cooking, add the garlic. *
  6. Add the sesame seeds and lemon juice, toss together, and serve.


* If you don’t want all that butter to end up in the final dish: after letting the garlic sizzle for a few minutes, you can carefully pour off the remaining butter, or use a paper towel to sop some of it up. You must do this while the beans are still sizzling in the butter, and before you add the sesame seeds and lemon juice. Doing it this way, you can get rid of 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. (If you’re wondering, I like to leave all 4 tablespoons.)