Fresh Fava Bean Pesto

When I saw the fresh fava beans at the market last night, I remembered two things: the delightful fava bean toasts from the restaurant Essex, and our giant pot of basil growing rampant under the watchful eyes of the chickens in our backyard. When I came to harvest the basil this afternoon, they seemed concerned.

Favas are so easy to prepare, and the shelling and peeling process is pure kitchen zen. Once you (or your bored children) have shelled the beans, blanch them in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes. After you shock them in ice water they will be cool enough to peel; the waxy skin that envelopes the beans is quite easy to remove.

I started the pesto in the Vitamix, because I just love that thing. Turns out a mortar and pestle is absolutely the way to go. The blender just spun a crater in the middle of the pesto ingredients, and while they clung to the sides the blade whirled on, in futility. Traditional pesto recipes require the more labor-intensive mortar and pestle (pestare means to crush or mash in Italian, for goodness sake), and unless you’re making pesto for 30 people you really don’t need the technology.

Once the lemon, salt, and olive oil had been adjusted, the pesto was ready for toast. Baguette slices brushed with oil and lightly toasted were the perfect vehicle for this fresh, fragrant pesto. Eating while the chickens stared at us without blinking wasn’t even weird, either.

Fresh Fava Bean Pesto

Print Recipe
Serves: 6-8 Cooking Time: 25 min


  • 1 1/2 lb/.68 kg fresh fava beans in their shells
  • 3 oz/85g fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove raw garlic, peeled
  • 1 oz/28.3g fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 oz/85g pine nuts
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste



Place garlic in a mortar.


Crush the garlic with the pestle until it forms a paste.


Add the olive oil and basil, process with the pestle until the basil is broken down into the oil.


Add the remaining ingredients, and mix by crushing with the pestle until you have a chunky puree.


Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.


Serve with slices of toasted baguette drizzled or brushed with extra virgin olive oil.

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