What's in season: One of the most prized beans of spring, favas are known for their buttery, earthy notes and vibrant green hue. And for being one of the most high-maintenance of the season's offerings. Favas generally need to be shucked twice — once to remove the thick-skinned pod, plus a second peeling to remove the tough outer skin around each bean. When all the work is done, a pound of whole favas might yield only one-third to one-half cup of beans. Favas might be an undertaking, but the results are worth it. You can generally find the beans through the spring months.
What to cook: Fava beans are terrific either cooked or raw; they lend rich, nutty flavors to salads, pastas and rice dishes. Sauté the beans with oil and garlic, or serve them creamed with a touch of tarragon. If you can find younger beans, or ones that don't have white individual skins, they don't have to be shucked a second time before using. Or you can just grill whole young fava pods and let your guests do the work.
What's on the horizon: More tomatoes are showing up, as are tender new potatoes in a variety of colors.