“As Good as It Gets” Fava Bean Dip

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    ; makes about 3 cups

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Here's an earthy fava bean dip called bissara from the mountain-residing Berbers of Morocco. It's a dish that's recently become quite fashionable in Marrakech and Rabat. In one luxury establishment, I even saw it served in a silver tureen.

Dried fava beans are one of the oldest food staples in the Mediterranean. When peeled and cooked, they become luscious and smooth, delicate in flavor with a hint of piney resin. Purchase large split fava beans by mail order or at your local Middle Eastern store. I think they have a flavor superior to that of smaller favas. With long, slow cooking and a simple sieving, they attain a smooth, unctuous texture.

This dip can be prepared in advance and reheated. Serve with toasted bread rounds.


  • 10 ounces dried large, split, peeled fava beans
  • cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Pinch of ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne


  1. Wash the dried favas and drain. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts water to a rolling boil. Add the favas, cup of the olive oil, and the garlic; return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the favas are soft.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the favas, garlic, and a cupful of the cooking juices to an electric blender or food processor and whirl until smooth. Return to the pot with the remaining juices, add the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt, and continue cooking for 1 hour longer, or until the mixture is creamy and reduced to about 3 cups. Correct the salt. Push the favas through a sieve into a bowl for the silkiest texture.
  3. Put the bissara in a shallow dish and garnish with a light dusting of cumin and cayenne and a generous swirl of olive oil. Serve warm.