Boiled Fava Beans with Olive Oil and Sage

Fave Bollite

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • About

    3½ cups

    beans and juices

Appears in

There is no bean whose flavor is so gently pleasing as the fava bean, and there is no method that elicits that flavor so purely as boiling them with olive oil and sage. My husband and I have a passion for fava beans, a passion that in Italy can be requited only for a brief period in the spring. For Easter I make them Roman-style, with olive oil and cured pork jowl or pancetta, and serve them with baby lamb or, when both artichokes and peas are very young, in that other extraordinary dish, vignarola. But I keep my eyes open for the first, small, tender fava of the year, and then this is the recipe I would use, the one that brings me closest to their essence, undistracted by other ingredients.


  • 3 pounds fresh, young fava beans in their pods
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sage, 4 or 5 leaves if fresh, 1 teaspoon chopped if dried
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh


  1. Shell the beans, discarding the pods, and put them in a saucepan with half the olive oil, all the sage, and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Cover and turn on the heat to low. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until they are tender to the bite.
  2. When the beans have been cooking for 25 minutes, add salt and liberal grindings of black pepper, and stir thoroughly.
  3. Before serving, swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Serve with all their juices and crusty bread.