Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I know why Hannibal Lecter craved fava beans.

Posted by Lyndi

You know the scene I am talking about.  The scene with the famous (and repulsive) quote about “fava beans and a nice chianti.  Chianti? Been there.  Done that.  Fava beans?  Hmmmm. Let’s face it.  Fava beans are difficult to locate. 

But then, it happened.  I tasted them. 

And now I know why Hannibal Lecter craved fava beans. 

They are the filet mignon of beans. 

I rank them on my top 3 favorite purely delicious food tasting moments of all time.

Last fall I had my first encounter with a fava bean while on vacation in beautiful Vail Village, Colorado at Kelly Liken’s namesake restaurant (yes, the same Kelly Liken on Top Chef Washington, DC).  I ordered a side vegetable dish of freshly picked peas, pea tendrils, and wild mushrooms.  Shortly after diving into our appetizers, the waitress came to my table an apologized about running out of the mushrooms and asked sweetly, “would you mind a substitute of freshly picked fava beans?”

Would I mind?  I’ve been looking for fava beans my whole life!  “Yes! Yes! Yes,” I gushed.


When I tell you that fava beans are the filet mignon of beans, I literally mean they incredibly taste like filet mignon. 

Why are they not a household staple? 


Here comes the catch.  These babies are hard to locate.  In early spring, fava beans are smaller and bright green.  As the summer goes by they grow quite large and are also called “broad beans.”  Towards late summer they can get mealy and quite hard, which is fine for pureeing as a spread but not as wonderful as a side dish.

So I’ve been searching.

Ozark Natural Foods has dried fava beans in bulk.  I purchased them, soaked overnight, and cooked them.  Result?  Not so good.  I found a canned fava bean.  Neh, so-so.  I’ve yet to find them in the frozen vegetable aisle, but I keep looking in every store I enter.  I kid you not.

But then.  It happened. I found them! 

Fresh, beautiful fava beans!  At Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville!  “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”  I gushed in the aisle and danced the happy dance. 

Who cares who saw me?  I found fava beans!!!

Forget putting them on your foodie bucket list for the future… run over to Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville as soon as you finish reading this and purchase some.  Even just a few .  Try it out for yourself and tell me if they aren’t amazing.

Curious how to prepare?

Fava beans come in pods.  So you must first remove the beans from the pod and drop them in boiling water.

Remove the beans from the boiling water after approximately 5 minutes.  Essentially, you are blanching them before you sautee them.  Drop them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Remove the beans from the ice water.  Now you are going to remove the outer skin of the bean.  How?  Use a fingernail to lightly pry open the end and then you just “pop-push” the bean out.  Viola!

Sautee lightly in a frying pan.  I sautéed in butter with a little salt, pepper, and dash of garlic powder. 

You are now ready to bite into pure delight.  In this example, I went literal and added a sprinkle of sautéed fava beans over my filet mignon.  It was like an Iron Chef battle:  filet mignon vs fava beans, the filet mignon of beans. 

It was a tie!

I hope you don’t mind my going long-winded today.

Happy eating!


  1. Did you enjoy a nice Chinati with the fava beans - and was that really filet mignon or some poor guy's liver?

  2. ok they may taste good but the reference in the movie is referring to the effects caused by mixing an Antidepressant MAOI with foods rich in the amino acid Tyramine; (Fava Beans & Red Wine Chianti) both cause the heart rate to rise, blood pressure to rise and for some individuals this would be a hypertension crisis, but for Hannibal it was a natural high


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