Grill Up Your Next Batch Of Fava Beans For A Delicious Side Dish

The grill can be a harsh environment. When we think of grilling food, we talk about things like searing and forming crusts on (primarily) meat, using the benefit of high heat and leaping flames. However, the grill can also produce cooked foods of wonderful nuance with a lovely charred texture and smoky background flavor. You might already be hip to our tip of grilling sweet corn in its husk, and will be glad to know that there's another vegetable similarly encased in its own grilling envelope: fresh fava beans.

You'll need the whole fava bean pods for this, obviously — it's impractical (and probably disastrous) to place little shelled fava beans on the grill. This won't be a problem if you're buying your beans from a local farmer's market or a good supermarket produce section. (If they're out of season, buy a can of the shelled variety, content yourself with our delectable fava bean hummus recipe, and await the arrival of spring.) Once home, fire up the grill, wash the bean pods thoroughly, pat them dry, and coat in olive oil. It's time.

You don't have to give a shuck

Place the whole fava beans on the preheated grill and give them about five minutes. Not only will they char, the beans will begin to push their way out of the pod. That's how you'll know they're done. Remove the beans from the heat and let them cool in a bowl. Once you can handle them, the beans should pop right out of the pod. Toss them with more olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Easy peasy. Add a few herbs, such as mint and dill, if you have some handy.

Now, you don't actually have to shuck the beans after grilling. It turns out that the softened, charred pods are quite delicate and delicious. These can be tossed in the same simple dressing, which could also be enhanced with crushed red pepper flakes and a thinly-sliced scallion. Either way, these dazzlingly green little legumes, redolent with smoke and lemon, will brighten any plate — especially when accompanying our Mediterranean grilled chicken. A bottle of nice Chianti is optional.