Asparagus, pea, fava bean, and barley ragout

May 31, 2017 at 9:37 pm (101 cookbooks, Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Grains, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Starches, To test on plan, Vegetable dishes, Yearly menu plan) (, )

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never cooked with fava beans. All that boiling and husking and peeling of individual beans … Seems like a lot of work. So I thought I’d start easy with basically ready-to-eat frozen, pre-shelled fava beans. But what to do with them? I found this recipe for a spring ragout on the 101 cookbooks blog, and it looked good, and toddler friendly. Alma likes asparagus and peas and pasta, so hopefully she’d like the dish. And she did. I decided to make it a second time, but then Alma got pasta at lunch at daycare, and I didn’t want to serve pasta twice in one day, so I subbed in barley instead. She loved it! 

I didn’t really measure anything, but below is a rough guess of what I did. The original recipe didn’t call for garlic or lemon juice, but I think they were essential.


  • 2 to 3 tsp. of chopped garlic
  • 1 to 2 bunches of asparagus, really tough parts discarded, medium tough parts cut into thin rounds, and softer parts cut into 3/4-inch segments
  • 2.5 cups frozen fava beans
  • 2 tsp. olive oil (or butter)
  • salt & veggie bouillon powder
  • ~2 cups of cooked barley (optionally, 6 to 10 ounces of whole wheat pasta, cooked)
  • 2 cups frozen green peas
  • cream or creme fraiche
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • parmesan cheese to serve with
  • purple basil, thinly sliced (or fresh parsley, minced)


  1. Prep: Mince your garlic. Prep the asparagus.
  2. Cook the veggies: Bring about a quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. (If you are going to make pasta rather than use pre-cooked barley, then bring to a boil 2 quarts of a water in a large pot.) Salt the water (use about 1 to 1.5 tsp. per quart of water), then add the frozen fava beans and boil for about 4? minutes. (I originally said 8 but I’m pretty sure that’s too long.) When the timer goes off, add the asparagus to the water with the fava beans and cook until the fava beans are no longer starchy and the asparagus is almost tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. (I originally said 4, but the asparagus cooks a bit more in the pan, so 4 is definitely too long.) Drain. (Or if you are going to use the water to make pasta just use a sieve or spider to pull the veggies out of the water, then throw the pasta into the water to cook.)
  3. Make your sauce: In a large 12-inch stainless steel skillet, heat a little bit of olive oil or butter. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown, then add the fava beans, asparagus, barley, peas, and a large splash of cream or spoonful of creme fraiche. Cook briefly until the cream reduces and coats the veggies and barley, then add the zest and juice of one large lemon. Sometimes I mix a little bouillon powder in with some of the hot veggie cooking water, and add that to the sauce for more umami flavor and liquid.
  4. Garnish: Serve with black pepper, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil or parsley.


I’m not sure how much cream I used. I think I used about 1/2 of a 200 gram container of Schlagsahne (30% fat whipping cream), but I only used the liquid part, not the solid cream that had risen to the top.)

Alma kept asking for more and more and more. Derek and I preferred the pasta version, but the barley version was good too, and a nice option if you’ve had pasta recently (which we usually have).

If you wanted to make this vegan, you could probably add a little non-dairy milk instead of the cream, and maybe some nutritional yeast?

If you already have the barley cooked, this would make a pretty quick weekday dinner. I think this dish might also make a nice (non-traditional) savory breakfast.

I’d like to make something similar once asparagus season is over, but I’m not sure what veggie to sub in for the asparagus. Maybe green beans and mushrooms? Zucchini? Any other ideas?

1 Comment

  1. My time-saving kitchen tips | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] mostly from the freezer recipe that I just made is asparagus fava bean barley ragout. I used frozen fava beans and frozen green peas. I’m guessing you could also use frozen […]

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