What’s Cooking Wednesday: Calabrian Sausage & Fava Beans

Home of What’s Cooking WednesdayYou had to know it was only a matter of time before fava beans made an appearance on What’s Cooking Wednesday.

Fava beans (also known as broad beans and “fava” in Italian, “fave” is plural) are peasant food at its finest, and if there’s one thing we do well in Calabria, it’s peasant.

I wrote about favas before they start coming into season right around St. Joseph’s Day in March; now we’re at the end of the fava run. Mostly we just eat them raw as a snack (more info on how you get to that point below), but when P’s mom brought a big ole bag of them over, we had an urge to cook them.

And yes, that could also be because “Fabio” comes from faba…Latin for fava! It’s in our DNA around here.

Favas on the balcony on Flickr

Normally P’s mom would use “carne salata” (a very salty cured meat) with this dish, but we didn’t have any so we used spicy Calabrian sausage. Pancetta or bacon could also easily be substituted.

While researching for the post, I came across this recipe from medieval times–not only is the recipe quite similar to what P’s mom would make, there are words in there more reminiscent of Sicilian/Calabrian than standard Italian. Interesting, huh?

Before we get to the recipe, let’s get something clear before you start–you have to *really* want to eat favas to go through the work involved. Susan of Food Blogga, gives a great demonstration of shelling them here, and now a quick lesson from me.

They start looking like this:

Fava beans on Flickr

Snap off the top of the pod and pull down so the pod splits at the seam (or otherwise twist and turn the thing until you expose the beans):

Oopen favas on Flickr

Remove the beans and throw away the pods so that you’re looking at a bunch of beans like this:

Shelled favas on Flickr

You’re not done yet! Now you have to take off the outer casing as well, otherwise you could be in for some nasty digestion issues later.

Susan recommends boiling the beans and then plunging them in ice water, but I just peeled off the little “handle” on top and then squeezed out the beans.

One more step and we can eat the favas on Flickr

Now your favas are shelled and ready to eat raw or cook.

Favas in the sun on Flickr

I told you. You have to want these.

If you’re in the right frame of mind, shelling favas can be an extremely relaxing experience as it was for me. Yes, my thumbs hurt a little bit afterwards, but you know what they say:

No pain, no favas.

They are worth it, I promise, especially since this recipe has only four ingredients. Easy peasy! Or, easy fava-y? And as I told P, it’s fava-loso.

OK I’ll stop now.

Calabrian sausage & fava beans
(Salsiccia calabrese con le fave)

Spicy sausage and favas on Flickr

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 links of spicy sausage, cut into chunks
4 garlic sprouts, chopped
Pile of favas
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in medium pan and add sausage. Let cook for about 10 minutes until the sausage releases some of its fat and flavor into the oil.

2. Add garlic sprouts and beans and cook until beans are tender but not overcooked, about 15-20 minutes, testing often.

3. Adjust for salt.

4. Serve with fresh, crusty bread, and this is a delicious, hearty meal on its own.


1. The green attached to the end of this fresh garlic is what I mean by garlic sprouts. The first time P’s mom called these “code” (COH-deh) or garlic tails, I just had to smile. Isn’t that a great name? Don’t you love Italian?

Fresh garlic sprouts on Flickr

2. I think this recipe would be great with tomatoes thrown in too, but P wasn’t feeling adventurous, so we did it without. Maybe next fava season.

Buon appetito!

Have you tried fava beans?

What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

33 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Cooking Wednesday: Calabrian Sausage & Fava Beans”
  1. Oooh, I love fava beans! I don’t find fresh ones very often, but when I do, I grab them! I usually make them with sopressatta, but I’ll have to look for the Calabrian sausage. It looks wonderful! My grandmother used to make them with lots of onions, garlic and tomatoes. It was like a stew. That was pretty darn good too. πŸ™‚

    Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy’s last blog post..Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte

    I would love them in a stew Susan πŸ™‚ Hope you find some fresh ones to play with!

  2. Gil

    Thanks for another interesting recipe.

    My pleasure Gil πŸ™‚

  3. Joanne

    I remember shelling these with my Sicilian grandmother. We sat on chairs facing each other, wearing aprons and putting the empty pods in our laps and the cleaned beans in a bowl (watching All My Children!).

    Joanne’s last blog post..Savory Strudel

    Aw how fun! My grandmother was never into soaps but I do remember quite a few episodes of “Bewitched” mixed in there….

  4. 05.07.2008

    That recipe looks great and I think tomatoes would be a great addition. P doesn’t like them at all? My son is about to hit the terrible twos so I don’t think I’ll have much time to shell the beans, unless I make my husband do it. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
    Oh, and I miss watching All My Children too! Do you think Erica Kane used to shell fava beans with her ma?

    Linda’s last blog post..Paris, tu me manques

    Oh no, P *loves* tomatoes, but he just wasn’t sure about adding them to this b/c he’s never had it that way. I didn’t watch AMC, so I have no opinion on Erica Kane…I was a CBS girl (Guiding Light, As the World Turns, Young & the Restless) πŸ˜‰

  5. Scicchi

    That’s looks so incredibly good! I must stop visiting here on Wednesdays before work, I am ruined for the whole day! Thanks for the “garlic sprout” explanation as well!

    See if you had my grandmother on your route, you’d be all set πŸ˜‰

    You know I *think* that’s what is meant by garlic sprouts, but if anyone knows any different, please tell me. I had never used them before, or even seen them for that matter, so I was going on the “tails” description and photos from the Internet as to what they’re called in English!

  6. 05.07.2008

    Looks great. Worth the work I am sure.

    running42k’s last blog post..Still alive

    Absolutely πŸ™‚

  7. 05.07.2008

    We have those in the supermarkets here and I didn’t know what to do with them. Now, time to experiment! I love any beans so let’s see if I can find a decent sausage to go with it.

    grace’s last blog post..in Dubai, the possibilities are endless

    You can also try them raw Grace; they’re a bit hit that way around here!

  8. 05.07.2008

    Yum! I love fava beans, too! Susan’s right, though: briefly blanching them makes it a lot easier to slip the skins off beans — might prevent a sore thumb afterwards.

    I still dream of a dish I had once long ago at Chez Panisse (and thus, probably impossible to replicate, at least in my kitchen) of salmon in a delicately-flavored court bouillion, served with thinly sliced shallots, minced herbs, and fava beans. I think I whimpered when I had to surrender my dish.

    Of course, fava beans are fabulous just by themselves with a bit of lemon juice & olive oil, and a little salt.

    annoa2’s last blog post..Sunday Scribblings: I am from…

    Yes I do believe the blanching makes it easier, but it’s just the Calabrian way–we like things difficult here πŸ˜‰

    That salmon dish sounds heavenly, but then I’ve never met a salmon dish I didn’t like….

  9. 05.07.2008

    Oh good grief… you’re supposed to take the outer casing off before you eat them? I wonder if that’s why they taste so bitter? NO WONDER I dislike eating them! My husband’s family eats them like, there is no tomorrow… but they just tear open the pods and pop them into their mouths, with a good piece of bread and sopressatta to accompany them. I was always told that the bigger the bean, the more bitter they would taste. True, the smaller ones taste less bitter, but still, they were still unappealingly bitter so I always passed when it came to eating them. I literally threw an entire bag away last week! Now, I am curious to see if peeling off that outer casing makes any difference in how they taste.

    Off topic… did you ever post about making Michelle’s (michellanea) bagels? I am making them again today and wanted to compare notes with your experience of making them. Just wanted to know if you posted a “What’s Cooking Wednesday” regarding the bagels?

    Giulia’s last blog post..These visuals *may* shock you!

    I’ve done the same thing Giulia! They are still kind of bitter to me, but much less so if you take off that casing. Same here, btw–just at the table with a whole bunch of pods. They think I’m strange that I don’t *love* them as much as they do. I mean, I like them raw, but they *love* them.

    As for the bagels, the post is here. I think the only things I adjusted was the salt (I use a bit less) and the sugar (I use a bit more), but feel free to email me to compare notes!

  10. 05.07.2008

    Great, thanks! I thought you posted about making them and just couldn’t remember. I’ll let you know how they come out with my adjustments. πŸ™‚

    Giulia’s last blog post..These visuals *may* shock you!

    Keep me posted! Happy bageling!

  11. 05.07.2008

    I didnt know people ate them raw! Dang, we are country here! πŸ™‚

    Cherrye’s last blog post..Fried Dough is Good for the Heart

    Oh my goodness, it’s amazing how excited they get when they see favas and just start ripping them open!

  12. jody

    Yum. We made some sausage the other night, but no fava’s. Will have to see if I can get them here.

    I had to LOL when I read the above comments about shelling them while watching All My Children. I used to sit with my Grandma, who was from Bari, and watch General Hosptial.

    jody’s last blog post..Helmsman

    See now my aunt (my grandmother’s sister) was a big GH fan–still is, I would imagine πŸ™‚

  13. 05.07.2008

    That looks so good. I kind of like the idea of it without tomatoes, so many dishes get the tomato treatment and sometimes I think they mask the other flavours.

    We are living amongst fields and fields of these beans, the scent from the bean flowers is amazing. The ones around here are not quite ready to eat yet but I am checking daily because if you catch them ‘just right’ ie really young and tender you can eat them with the skins on. I have actually had them cooked still in the pod too, which was a tad fibrous but still quite tasty. My favourite way is very young and raw, make a salad of them with or without the skins, lots of olive oil and seasoning and fresh pecorino cheese crumbled on top. Yum!

    amanda’s last blog post..The birds and the bees

    You’re right Amanda–without tomatoes is a refreshing change πŸ™‚

    Yes I have heard you can eat the pods and all; maybe next years we’ll try it. The young, raw, and small are definitely the best, I agree πŸ™‚

  14. 05.07.2008

    I don’t think I’ve ever had fava beans. In fact, I came across the words “fava beans” just the other day and I wondered to myself, “Do I even know what fava beans are?” Given that you said you have to really WANT them, I probably won’t bother, but I do enjoy reading your cooking adventures anyway! πŸ™‚

    stefanie’s last blog post..Apparently I blog only once a week now (and only in bullet points)

    It is perfectly acceptable to me that you live vicariously regarding the favas. I mean, if you happen to come across some, I do expect you to follow the tutorial, but no pressure πŸ˜‰

  15. 05.07.2008

    Tried them, love them and can not wait to eat more! Your pictures made me very hungry!

    Lisa’s last blog post..Fun on the Fridge

    Hope you find some soon then Lisa πŸ™‚

  16. Oh yeah! That looks amazing Michelle! I have had favas a few times. Roberto likes them just plain – and I have had them in soup – but I think your recipe beats them all! How can you go wrong with sausage! And peasant food is THE BEST.

    JennDZ_The Leftover Queen’s last blog post..A Taste of Jamaica

    Ah, Roberto is a true Italian then (not that I doubted it!). Sausage is always good, I agree, and peasant food…well…you’re right again πŸ˜‰

  17. 05.07.2008

    I was just out the door to the farmers market..but now, after seeing that glorious display of sausage and fava’s..I’m HUNGRY!.
    So..i’ll probably come home with too many veggies and with my hubby out of town, no one to help me eat them all. πŸ™‚
    I’m gonna try that dish..yummm!!!
    Thanks Michelle!!

    Laurie’s last blog post..“Mushroom Recipe Contest” hosted by Marx Foods

    Never too many veggies Laurie! Hope you had a nice shopping trip πŸ™‚

  18. SabineM

    Lovely recipe! I love Fava beans and Sausage!
    Every time I see or hear the word Fava beans, All I can think of is Hanibal Lecter and his fava beans and Chianti!

    SabineM’s last blog post..I LOVE YOU NC

    Hah! Me too, Sabine…and my mom said the same thing πŸ™‚

  19. 05.07.2008

    I have tried fava beans, but I didn’t do anything interesting with them and wasn’t a big fan. This recipe looks perfect. Do you think Chorizo or Andouille would be a better substitute here?

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..What’s Cooking Wednesday: Simple Breads 3 – Whole Wheat English Muffin Bread

    Yes Jen! Funny that until you wrote out Andouille, I never realized how (kinda/sorta) close in pronunciation it is to Calabria’s famed ‘nduja (ahn-doo-ya). Huh.

  20. Rosa (something...)

    You know, we have always cooked them with the casing on unless they were big and tough. Its probably nicer your way, as the inside of the bean would over cook before the skin did !

    Rosa, honestly P told me to leave the casing on b/c that’s how they do it, but I know my digestive tract and beans, so I made an executive decision. The very next day he came home saying how one of his friends had horrible stomach cramps after eating cooked favas with the casings on, so I was vindicated πŸ˜‰

  21. 05.07.2008

    I love what represents an adventure in your house. “Pomodori? Con questo? MacchΓ©!?” πŸ™‚

    Paolo’s last blog post..I love it when a plan comes together

    I know right? I actually have a post coming up about food culture clash on Friday….

  22. 05.07.2008

    Admittedly, I get these fresh as can be, but I never take off that inner skin. My neighbors don’t either. While I am currently a Vesuvius digestively, it’s not from fave because ours haven’t really started yet.

    Today I ate the rest of that Calabrian wild chicory and peppers stuff. I’m not sure I am surviving. Water certainly doesn’t help. Chocolate didn’t. I appear to have heartburn from my ankles to my eyebrows.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Stuffed rib pork chops or β€˜costellette di maiale ripiene’

    Oh Judith. I’d say eating lots of bread is the key, but I fear we’re already past that. Godspeed πŸ˜‰

  23. 05.07.2008

    yes! love those fava beans!
    the best ever was in Lucca with onions
    that is TOO far for me to travel.


    how do i like them cooked??
    the easiest way, really…

    i like them
    Cooked By Someone Else,

    somepinkflowers’s last blog post..tourist tuesday and the gift from spain

    Now *that* is a great answer SPF πŸ™‚

  24. 05.07.2008

    I’m sure someone has already said this…but…with “,,,a nice chianti.” πŸ˜‰

    Hee hee…no liver? πŸ˜‰

  25. 05.08.2008

    There is this great little Lebanese restaurant in my home town and they serve *the best* fava beans. I’m wondering if they are the same variety? I just know I love them and I’ve been wanting to make some. I don’t mind the work. It’s part of the whole experience.
    Hope you enjoyed yours. That sausage looks yummy.

    cheeky’s last blog post..words that resonate

    I agree with you Cheeky–part of the experience. I hope you get some fab favas soon πŸ™‚

  26. 05.08.2008

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen fava beans before!

    Shan’s last blog post..what’s cooking wednesday – the cool mom campaign edition

    I never saw them before I came here Shan. In the pods they actually just look like peas, but a little broader…broad beans! Hah!

  27. 05.08.2008

    Oh thanks, you have given me inspiration for using my remaining fava beans, just what I needed!

    So happy to provide it Ilva πŸ™‚

  28. 05.08.2008

    Always looking for a new recipe for fava and this looks like a good addition. Yum

    Bella Baita View’s last blog post..May Day, May Day

    Hope you enjoy it Marla πŸ™‚

  29. 05.09.2008

    Oh, very interesting. I had always heard that they were poisonous eaten raw, but it’s just the inner-outer husk, huh? Fascinating.

    There is a certain obsessive-compulsive delight in tasks of this nature, the double husking I mean. But then you not only have to really want the dish, you also have to be really okay with spending the time only to have the food vanish immediately after being served. It’s a conflict I’m always having with myself. Yes, I long for X dish, but no, I will be sad to spend my entire day creating it and then not be able to enjoy it or have it appreciated for a commensurate amount of time.

    I think this is one of the pleasures of baking. As we’ve gotten older (and not had kids), we’ve gotten a trifle more circumspect about our lust for certain foods. It is not normal for me to take half an hour or an hour to make a batch of cookies, a cake or a pie and then have it gone half an hour after it comes out of the oven or cools sufficiently. Not anymore. πŸ˜‰ Now the joy gets drawn out at least 24 hours! Not so with the time- and/or labor-intensive entrΓ©es.

    You know I never really thought of it that way Sara, but that could be why I prefer baking too. I figure a dish like this every once in a while is rewarding–could never do it every night though. And I’m also happy to say that baked goods now last longer than just a day in my house too. I’m growing up!

  30. 05.09.2008

    Fabulous. I’ll have to try it this way. We haven’t seen the last of fava beans, thank goodness!

    Tammy’s last blog post..Spring Stew

    Thanks for coming over Tammy πŸ™‚

  31. 05.10.2008

    Oh how I hated shelling fava beans as a kid. I could never understand how to do it without getting the shell stuck under my fingernails. Painful!

    My Barese Nana used to make fave en bonata (spelling?). Basically, it was a mixture of fava, bread, cheese, and chicory greens, I think. It was delicious, and I could eat tons of it. Luckily for my waistline, we only had it once in a while.

    Bella’s last blog post..Surprise, Surprise!

    Ooh that sounds delicious Bella! It shouldn’t be *too* unhealthy for you, depending on just how much bread and cheese is involved, right? πŸ˜‰

  32. 03.04.2010

    oh these are my favourite things for Spring, they’re better than chocolate and I love the feel of the inside of pods. Your tasty sausage recipe has made me feel so hungry, looks wonderful just need to wait for the beans now to try.

    Mmmm now that you’ve reminded me, I can wait for the favas either! Soon….

    .-= Sammy´s last blog ..1 Weekend, 1 Month, 11 Months After an Earthquake =-.

  33. jeanne

    Just stumbled on your blog and made this tonight… yumm!! big hit! thanks!

    So wonderful to know! Thanks for coming back to tell me, Jeanne πŸ™‚



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