Fava beans are never out of season, since you can always find them either fresh, dried, frozen, or canned, with recipes available for each type. Early summer farmers' markets will have the best selection of fresh, young favas.
In Turkey, in early spring, when fava beans first come into the market, they are cooked in their skins and pods. Turkish cooks simply cut the stringless immature favas into 1-inch lengths and soak them in acidulated salted water for 10 minutes to soften the exteriors. Then they stew them in olive oil and eat them whole as a cold appetizer.
An Italian-born Sonoma-based vendor of organic vegetables taught me a method of steaming beans in their pods and then peeling off both the pod and the skins at the same time, which has become my favorite way of cooking them. The favas retain their beautiful bright green color, and the flavor is vibrant, intense, and bittersweet, though cooking time is a bit longer.
Many readers are probably familiar with Italian raw favas served with pecorino cheese, or Spanish lightly blanched favas served with ham and mint as a small appetizer. In this Moroccan version, the steaming method yields a succulent yet slightly mealy textured spread of favas, crushed and flavored with garlic, lemon, olive oil, and spices. It's delicious with crackers, toasted pita, or warm semolina bread.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.