Fava Leaf Pesto

April 29, 2011

Each winter we grow favas, more for their ability to fix nitrogen into our garden beds, than to eat.  We usually have one meal involving the fava beans and then till the plants into the soil or add them to our compost.  If you read Sunset magazine, you may have noticed that they have featured fava leaf recipes in the past few issues. I had no idea you could eat the leaves!  Actually the leaves are quite delicious and since our plants are four feet tall, there are plenty of them to eat!

The other day, my kids and I set off to the garden, basket and scissors in hand, to pick some fava beans and leaves.  Our mission was to make pesto.  Pesto is one of my their favorite foods.  They love to eat it, but even more so, they love to make it with me.  They are old enough now that  their “help”  actually is help, but not so old that they do not want to help anymore.  We collected a basket of fava leaves and as many beans as we could (ours are still a little on the small side).   The kids then went to work happily shelling the beans, as I picked the leaves from the stem.  Together we pureed the leaves with garlic, walnuts, and parmesan with the kids taking turns pressing the buttons on the food processor.  The munchkins also had the job of quality control, testing out the pesto on a toasted slice of bread.

Fava Leaf Pesto has a bright spinachy flavor with hints of artichoke.  The intense green color is superb! I tossed it with some hot linguine and topped the bowl with a scattering of blanched baby fava beans and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  My son announced, “I’m definitely having more.  I could eat this forever!” Not a bad endorsement.  If you do not not have a crop of favas in your backyard, check the farmers’ market.  We will definitely make this pesto again!

Fava Leaf Pesto

makes 1 cup

2 cups fava leaves, stems removed

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly cracked pepper to taste

Mince garlic in the food processor.  Add the fava leaves, walnuts, salt, and lemon juice.  With food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.  Blend until mixture is smooth and uniform.  You will probably need to scrape down the sides.  Add parmesan and pulse until mixture is combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately on pasta, pizza, or toast.  Store any left over in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Here is a printer friendly version of the recipe: Fava Leaf Pesto

Fava Leaf Pesto on Punk Domestics

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8 Responses to “Fava Leaf Pesto”


  1. What an incredible garden. I wish I had it in me to grow my own vegetables! I had no idea you could eat the leaves of fava beans and don’t even remember any leaves when I bought mine. Your pesto looks delicious and your kids are so sweet holding up fava beans from the garden.

  2. peasepudding Says:

    I’m not much of a gardener myself but I like the idea of using the fava bean leaves in cooking as well as the bean. What a bumper crop that would be then tilling the rest back into the land.

  3. Darci Says:

    I am going to make it tonight! I love Fava beans, and mine are so tall too!! I have been eating the leaves since Sunset put a fava leaf salad on the cover, tonight… PESTO!
    Thank you


  4. I am green with envy. I try to grow fava’s year after year! Fail. Pout.


  5. you have got a GREAT idea!!
    I always made basil pesto, you know I’m italian…
    but tonight I’ll try your original and tasty recipe.


  6. […] Without a doubt, making pesto with the leaves was the yummiest way to eat the leaves.  The pesto was outstanding! I adapted the recipe from My Pantry Shelf  […]

  7. Jay Says:

    Some very good gardeners have told me that Favas do very well here in Tucson. I am always on the lookout for a more useful plant for my winter garden. Thank you so much for this post. The fava pesto sounds delicious! Perhaps even something my children will eat.


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