The Romans in Britain site main banner

The Romans in Britain site mobile banner

Check out some great books and help the site! I have chosen these books as among the best to illustrate this subject.

Whole fava beans
(Faba Integra)

Whole fava beans (Faba Integra)

from Anthimus, On Foods

Fava beans were a staple of the average peasant’s diet. Fava beans (properly called Vicia faba and also known in the culinary sense as the "broad bean", "fava bean", or "faba bean", is a species of flowering plant in the pea and bean family Fabaceae.) are a much-maligned Spring vegetable, and for somewhat good reasons, as you've also got to work to enjoy them: these beans require shucking, boiling, and then shelling before they can be applied to any recipe. However, as with all good things, are worth the effort.

Eaten fresh while young, they were also dried and used throughout the rest of the year; whole in pottages and broths, or ground and used as a flour. They were considered a coarse foodstuff, healthy and good for the lower classes to consume, but not something to be eaten by noblemen, who by their very nature needed more refined and delicate foods to sustain them. The Fava bean

The ancient broad bean had quite a reputation. The Egyptians considered broad beans unclean, and according to Herodotus, their priests weren’t allowed to even look at them, let alone eat the beans (fish was also taboo for the priests – HistoriaeII.37). The Greek philosopher/mathematician Pythagoras (570-495 vC) was also very anti-broad beans.

Original recipe:

Translation: Whole broad beans when properly cooked both in stock and in oil are better with seasoning or salt than chopped beans, because the latter burden the stomach.


  • 1 lb. dry peeled fava beans
  • 2 quarts beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for seasoning
  • Sea salt


  • To 1 lb. of dry beans add 2 quarts of of stock and olive oil and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer the beans with the lid on for 20 minutes or until they are tender.
  • This dish likes to stand: when the beans are almost cooked, turn off the heat and leave the beans to marinate for an hour in the stock and olive oil.
  • Bring to the boil again just before serving.
  • Season with olive oil and sea salt.

On Fava Beans

  • If you can’t find peeled dried fava beans, you can use unpeeled favas (but it is not recommended, unless you are doing a living history demo and have a lot of time to peel each bean while you are talking to the crowd!)
  • Boil 2 quarts of water in a pan and stir in the beans.
  • Boil for 10 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water.
  • Peel and discard the outer skins.
  • Put the peeled beans back in the pan with enough beef broth or stock and the olive oil and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer until the beans are tender (which should only take a few minutes) and most of the stock is absorbed.
  • Season before serving, or provide olive oil and sea salt for your guests to season to taste.


  • One lb. of dried favas will make about 6 cups (48 oz) of cooked beans.
  • For a feast with several courses or multiple dishes this is enough for 12 servings, or 6 servings as a side dish for a dinner.
  • It will feed 3 really hungry soldiers as a one-pot camp meal, and is especially tasty when a small amount of the salt pork or ham ration, and and a chopped leek, are fried together in olive oil and added to the cooked beans.
Visit our friends at:
Romans in Britain


Romans in Britain testudo footer art
Please just ASK before using anything on this site — like we'd say "no"...

This page last updated:
Layout and Design:
Sturmkatze Produktions AG banner